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IVH recognizes its graduating nurses

T-R photos by Thomas Nelson — Ashley Dare at her registered nurse graduation celebration Wednesday morning at the Iowa Veteran Home. She and nine others were recognized for advancing in their careers as nurses.

Staff at the Iowa Veterans Home celebrated nurses graduating on Wednesday.

Commandant Timon Oujiri and other staff members applauded the nurses’ achievement and danced while social distancing.

The graduates were able to become registered nurses and licensed practical nurses through a program at the facility.

“We established a career ladder so we could bring people in untrained and hire them for a resident aide role,” said Kristy Kelley, nurse supervisor. “We pay to send them to CNA class.”

When there is a COVID-19 pandemic going on, the classes are held at IVH.

Brad Buckley shows off his signed sheet recongizing him for graduating to become a registered nurse at the Iowa Veterans Home.

“Then we hire them into the CNA role,” Kelley said. “It’s an advancement, a promotion and an opportunity to have hands-on resident care.”

On Wednesday, four nurses graduated to become RNs and six became LPNs.

One of the newest RNs was Amber Hinegardner, who has worked at IVH since she was 17.

“Amber Hinegardner is our first one that has went from resident aide, RTW, LPN to RN, so we’re super pleased and proud of her,” Kelley said. “We’re actually pleased and proud of all of our graduates. It’s not easy to balance a job, family, work and school.

“They’re dedicated to the residents.”

Kristy Kelley, nurse supervisor, and Jenny Parker, staff member, clean the graduation setting for newly promoted registered and licensed practical nurses Wednesday morning at the Iowa Veterans Home.

As each graduating nurse went up to be recognized, while wearing their mask and socially distancing themselves, they talked about how honored they were to take care of the veterans in the facility.

Hinegardner is happy to be recognized and to graduate.

“I started as a resident aide after working at the movie theater in town,” Hinegardner said.

She’s worked at IVH her entire adult life.

“They made me feel like I succeeded,” Hinegardner said. “Even sometimes when you don’t feel like you succeed, they make you feel like it’s a huge accomplishment.”

Iowa Veterans Home put on a dance to recognize Ten newly graduated nurses Wednesday.

Throughout her career she’s worked with other RNs who have set an example for Hinegardner to follow.

“I feel like I’m opening a new chapter in my life,” she said.

Normally the program the nurses take part in is a year long.

“You really don’t have time for anything else, not even a job or caring for your family,” Kelley said. “This program gives them the ability to learn on the job as they learn in the classroom.”

The residents of IVH get the benefit of nurses who are familiar with them.

Amber Hinegardner smiles through her mask as she and others are recognized for graduating at the Iowa Veterans Home. Staff applauded and danced to celebrate 10 newly promoted nurses.

The pandemic has changed how IVH celebrates their graduating nurses. Instead of a social gathering staff set up a drive through celebration complete with music, treats and cheering co-workers.

“We have a real community feel to our facility and campus, and we want to celebrate every person’s victory and success,” Kelley said. “We couldn’t be happier for our graduates.”

Contact Thomas Nelson at 641-753-6611 or tnelson@timesrepublican.com.

Kristy Kelley, nurse supervisor, presents Annie Johnson a signed sheet as she and others are recognized at the Iowa Veterans Home.

Autumn Gast shows off her signed sheet recongizing her for graduating to become a licensed practicing nurse.

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