Friday, May 16, 2008

My Other Office - Part 2

This is the front entrance to the Iowa Veterans Home, which sits on 150 acres on the Iowa River. The Home was founded in 1887 and is now the second largest state-owned veterans home in the country. We serve approximately 725 residents between the ages of 28 and 101. Our residents range in accuity level, from skilled nursing and dementia care to domiciliary care (independent living). Since I started in December, I've only seen snow and mud; but spring is a glorious time here on the grounds.
Yesterday, the 21st Annual "Jerry's Barnyard" event took place in the courtyard. There were 15 different animals for residents, staff, and local school kids to enjoy.
My job also takes me to some less-than-desirable places, too. Last week Governor Culver signed legislation that provides funding for infrastructure improvements at our facility and also for the state's maximum security prison in Ft. Madison. So, my boss and I drove down for the bill signing in Ft. Madison and got a tour of the facility. This photo was taken by John Gaines of the Associated Press (we weren't allowed to take cameras in). We were standing in the area of the prison built in 1839 (solitary confinement) where the worst of the worst in our state judicial system sit in their cell for 23 hours a day. It was incredibly moving to see such young men (average age is 28) so lost and without a shred of hope or humanity. I stood on the other side of the glass and iron wall and could see their empty eyes. I will never forget that experience.

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