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IVH courtyard makeover complete

T-R PHOTOs BY LANA BRADSTREAM Iowa Veterans Home Commandant Timon Ouijiri shows off the new garden boxes installed in the renovated courtyard on the campus. The boxes are handicapped-accessible and residents are free to plant whatever they want in them.

A new courtyard for residents of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown was opened on Friday. However, snow and cold weather has not allowed people to readily utilize the upgraded feature on the campus.

A ribbon cutting scheduled for Wednesday was postponed.

Commandant Timon Oujiri said the plan was to bring Mayor Joel Greer and students from Marshalltown High School to provide music outside. However, he postponed the event Wednesday morning after receiving news of two more cases of COVID-19 in staff members.

“I thought it was prudent not to have it,” Ouijiri said.

Ouijiri said a ribbon cutting will still be held, but might have to wait until the spring.

“We have to abide by the 14 days which pushes the ribbon cutting to November,” he said. “And who knows what weather November will bring.”

Construction on the courtyard began in May. There were 6,680 hours of work put into the feature, along with 30 donated trees, 532 plants and 1,280 yards of concrete.

“The concrete of the old courtyard was at the end of its life,” Oujiri said. “It was hazardous to wheelchairs. There were also water fountains that did not work. Now we have three that do. We also have gazebos for large outdoor gatherings.”

The previous courtyard was regularly used by residents and family members and everyone on campus is excited about the new feature.

“Everyone enjoyed watching the progress made on it,” he said. “We even had a drone fly overhead once a week and we put footage on our closed circuit television so everyone could see.”

In addition to the functioning water fountains and gazebos, shuffleboard, a putting green and a basketball court were also installed. Oujiri said the thought behind a basketball court is to provide grandchildren of residents something to do during visits. The basketball hoop can be raised and lowered to allow people in wheelchairs to play, as well.

When the weather becomes warm, Oujiri is expecting the new courtyard to be utilized a great deal. However, if the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, people will still have to abide by restrictions, such as wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and limiting the number of people.

Oujiri is extremely proud of his staff who have managed to keep the pandemic mostly at bay.

“For a facility of our size and using national averages for cases in long-term care facilities, we should have had 250 plus residents with COVID, and we’ve had 11,” he said. “We should have had 80 to 90 residents pass away from it, and we have had one. With all of the pressures and anxieties, the staff has done a fantastic job taking care of residents. I could not be more proud of my staff.”

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

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