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IVH is free of COVID-19

Roger Broz, 72, a resident of the Iowa Veterans Home, celebrates with staff member Wyatt Manship after he became the last resident to recover from COVID-19. He was moved on Tuesday from the COVID-19 unit to his home building during an impromptu celebration.

The Iowa Veterans Home became COVID-19 free on Tuesday.

Resident Roger Broz, 72, had his second negative COVID-19 test Tuesday morning after being afflicted with the virus for 45 days.

To celebrate, there was an impromptu parade of sorts. Broz was wheeled out of the designated COVID-19 unit and held a sign declaring, “I beat COVID-19. June 23, 2020.” Staff members lined the road he traveled on, clapping as he moved from the COVID-19 unit to his home building on campus.

“I feel great,” Broz said. “The first thing I am going to do is see my wife. She is in here somewhere but I can’t kiss her right away because I will still be quarantined.”

Commandant Timon Oujiri said Broz will be reunited with his wife but social distancing will be in place for the time being.

Since the COVID-19 unit on the campus is empty, the entire building will be sanitized and closed down. The first cases at the Veterans Home were discovered in March and there have been 34 total since the pandemic began.

The Iowa Veterans Home shut down its campus to all visitors to protect the residents. However, the IVH is moving into the second phase of reopening and on Wednesday will allow visitors for residents at the end of their lives.

There can only be one visitor at a time and he or she must be at least 18 years of age and must pass a screening. Visitors need to wear personal protective equipment which includes a mask, face shield and a gown.

Visitors will also be allowed for residents who experience a significant change in physical or psychosocial conditions. Those visits will be held outdoors under supervision and will be rescheduled in case of inclement weather.

Registered nurse Vini Soukhavong worked in the COVID-19 unit since it opened on April 27 and she is excited to see it shut down.

“It means a lot for this facility,” she said. “We are finally COVID free!”

Oujiri said IVH staff are prepared and ready to open the unit back up if COVID-19 returns.

Soukhavong said the longest time a resident stayed in the unit was 54 days. Broz was in there for 45.

Krystle Faris is another RN who volunteered to serve in the COVID-19 unit and she will take on the new role of infection control for the campus. She said she will focus on plans to keep residents and staff safe, but was happy to see Broz moved back to his home building.

“It is so exciting that the last patient is leaving,” she said. “To think about all of the residents that were in the unit — all of them not only survived, but thrived. We are blessed to have the outcome we did.”

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Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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