Steve Tjarks Grand JiVante

When Steve Tjarks (middle) moved to Grand JiVante in Ackley two years ago, he could come and go and welcome visitors almost at-will. Until recently, though, he hadn't been face to face with his father Don Tjarks (left) in over a year, and has only sporadically visited with sister Suzanne Murphy (right).

Perhaps no population has been more affected by coronavirus restrictions than the residents of Iowa’s long term care facilities. When the virus was detected in the state last March, nursing home and assisted living facilities closed their doors. Residents and their families were left to communicate in video chats and waving to each other through windows. But last month, amid expanded distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the Iowa Department of Public Health eased some of those restrictions, opening the door to in-person visits. It’s been a welcome change for residents and families alike, who are happy to reunited as they reflect on how the year changed them.

Everything was great for Suzanne Murphy’s brother, 71-year-old Steve Tjarks, when he moved to Grand JiVante in Ackley two years ago. Tjarks was still free to visit with friends and family and he could leave to go to out eat. Most importantly, he could see his dad and his brother.


Steve Tjarks (right), a resident at Grand JiVante in Ackley, is able to resume in-person visits with his father Don Tjarks (left). His sister Suzanne Murphy is happy to be able to deliver the things that make him happy, like Diet Mt Dew.

Rube O'Neal Heritage Care Center

Rube O'Neal has struggled with the lack of visits from family since moving into Heritage care Center last summer. Recent changes in guidelines, however, have allowed family like granddaughter Brandi Duncan to get up close and personal again.

Hartkopp Scenic Living

Jo and Willie Hartkopp have lived the last year close to each other, but not nearly as close as either would have liked. Now that the visitation restrictions at care facilities have eased up a bit, they can at least share the moments they have done without since the pandemic began. Willie is a Resident at Scenic Manor and Jo is a tenant at Cedar Ridge Independent Living. Both facilities are part of Scenic Living Communities in Iowa Falls.

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