WATERLOO — Bill Martin Harris just can’t stay away from the Country View care center.
Despite retiring after working 32 years at the Black Hawk County-owned nursing home north of Waterloo, Harris was back Thursday manning an agricultural-themed bean bag toss game for residents.
“I like seeing my people, so I usually volunteer here about once a week or so,” said Harris, who brought along his popular dog Clarabelle. “I just love it here.”
Country View was underscoring the special bond between staff, volunteers and residents as part of National Nursing Home Week, a 50-year-old event recognizing the role skilled nursing centers play in caring for seniors and persons with disabilities.
“It just celebrates who we are,” said recreation assistant Janice Walker. “This is their home and where some of them have lived for 50 years. I’ve been here 23 years. They’re my family, and I want to make it fun for them.”
Frances Sykes joined other residents Thursday for the “Fun on the Farm” event, which included a variety of carnival-style games in the Country View community room.
Sykes reminisced between games about her time working at the former Crossroads Center Bishop’s Buffet. She’s now lived at Country View for 10 years.
“I’ve made a lot of friends since I’ve been here; that’s my best friend there,” she said, nodding toward Country View Administrator Dennis Coleman.
“You’re my best friend too,” Coleman replied. “You’re a very special lady.”
Coleman and some of Country View’s 145 residents and 180 employees were due for a little celebration after watching the county Board of Supervisors in recent months deal with the facility’s struggling financial picture.
“This is the fun stuff,” Coleman said. “It’s a time where we celebrate our residents and staff, our volunteers and visitors.”
Along with the skilled nursing center, Country View also is licensed as an intermediate care facility for the intellectually disabled and has a unit for persistent mental illness.
“We take care of people with mental health issues, it’s our niche,” Coleman said. “We also have much higher training levels for staff” than traditional nursing homes.
County Supervisor Craig White, a longtime Country View volunteer, was busy after the event giving state Rep. Bob Kressig a tour.
“We’re looking for additional funding,” White said. “This is a wonderful place for people that have no other place.
“We serve a lot of different clients out here, but they’re ordinary people to us,” he said. “And the staff is really great, the way they treat people.”