March 19, 2007

Dassel gets more than expertise from Augustana

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The City of Dassel will be getting more from Augustana Care Corporation than its expertise in providing senior care services.

In the agreement authorized Feb. 28 for Dassel Lakeside Community Home and Lakeside Apartments, Augustana will assume the nursing home’s $1.5 million debt, said City Administrator Myles McGrath Wednesday.

Augustana of Minneapolis, a major non-profit provider sponsored by 27 metro area churches, also will pay property tax on the Lakeside Apartments. The biggest financial benefit for the city will be that Augustana will pay for and take responsibility for upgrading the 1960 building to today’s standards, McGrath.

A 2004 plan to modernize the nursing home was expected to cost $5.5 million to build.

In return, the city will transfer all the nursing home and apartment assets, land, buildings, fixtures, furniture, patients, clients and employees to Augustana.

Augustana has the ability to take the mission and make it thrive. It will make the community home grow and be viable for the future, said Lakeside campus administrator, Bill Ward.

Augustana will officially take operating responsibility in July, he said.

“We are not using the word ‘sale’ in this transaction,” Ward added. “It technically does not meet the definition of a sale. It is a transfer of ownership and responsibility to an organization better equipped for the mission.”

The original purpose of the partnership was that nursing homes have challenging futures.

“Most are not profitable, many have closed and the wide array of new issues coming at us seems overwhelming. These include shortages of qualified employees, funding shortfalls, new and more difficult regulations and enforcement.

On top of that, we have an old campus that very much needs a major capital investment to rebuild to new standards.

All involved here realized the city was not in a position to equip the Lakeside campus with the resources necessary to thrive in this difficult business environment,” Ward said.

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