MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Kim Reynolds has removed the chief executive of the state's nursing home for veterans and their spouses, months after praising his response to the coronavirus pandemic, her office said Monday.
Reynolds' spokesman, Pat Garrett, said Timon Oujiri was “relieved of his duties” as commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown last week. He offered no additional information on the leadership change at the facility, which is Iowa's largest nursing home.
Reynolds appointed Oujiri as commandant in 2017, and the Iowa Senate confirmed him in 2018. In his role, he oversaw one of the nation's largest state-owned nursing homes for veterans, with around 500 residents and 900 employees.
In December, the governor appeared with Oujiri at one of her news conferences and praised the work he had done protecting the home's staff and residents during the pandemic.
“You and your team have done such an outstanding job,” Reynolds said. “Job well done.”
Oujiri, 63, returned the support, saying the governor had ensured the home had adequate personal protective equipment and testing supplies. He said then that 21 of the home's residents tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020 and that five of them died.
In February, state inspectors found that the home was in compliance with federal infection control standards for COVID-19.
Messages left for Oujiri weren't immediately returned. As of 2020, a state salary database showed that his annual salary was $126,000.
Commandants serve at the pleasure of the governor. It wasn't immediately clear if Oujiri, a retired Army colonel, remained a state employee in any capacity.