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Renovations, new clinic proposed for St. Mary's in Winsted

April 28, 2008

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

A proposed plan to make major renovations to St. Mary’s Care Center in Winsted includes the construction of an adjoining clinic which would be leased by Ridgeview Medical Center of Waconia.

The proposal was brought before the Winsted City Council during the April 16 meeting when the council was asked to approve the issuance of a health care facilities note for Living Services Foundation.

Living Services Foundation has owned St. Mary’s Care Center since June 2007. St. Mary’s Administrator/CEO Andy Opsahl is excited about the changes the investment will make to improving St. Mary’s facility.

But he is quick to point out that the Benedictine Health System (BHS) continues to manage St. Mary’s.

“Living Services Foundation and BHS have a pretty good relationship,” Opsahl said. “Living Services Foundation believes that BHS is a solid, diligent, quality manager. I would be speaking out of turn, but I have talked with Living Services Foundation almost every week. Their goal is to help reinvest in these properties and have BHS manage them.”

If the revenue bonds are approved, Living Services Foundation will begin work on immediate repair issues to St. Mary’s facility, as well as to upgrade the basic infrastructure, and update the building’s layout to better serve the needs of the resident population.

Ridgeview, headquartered in Waconia, is a major provider of primary care services in the surrounding communities. The proposed plan includes Ridgeview entering into a long term lease of the new clinic which will adjoin St. Mary’s Care Center building.

Ridgeview Medical Center Vice President of Diversified Services Mike Phelps said Ridgeview is committed to the Winsted community in providing health care services and is working to solidify plans with St. Mary’s.

“St. Mary’s and Ridgeview offer different things to the community, and we hope to be able to dovetail those to increase the services offered to Winsted,” Opsahl said.

A public hearing is scheduled Tuesday, May 20 during the regular Winsted council meeting to receive resident input on the approval of the health care facility revenue bond.

St. Mary’s has received grants exceeding $200,000

Besides the proposed renovations, St. Mary’s has received grants totaling $210,000 which it is using to update its call-light system and purchase safe handling equipment.

Of the five or six grants they have written, they have received four of them.

“Typically when you write a grant you have about a 20 percent chance of getting one,” Opsahl said. He is obviously very pleased with St. Mary’s grant writing efforts.

One of the grants was from the Minnesota Department of Health for up to $55,000 to replace the 1960 call-light system at St. Mary’s which Opsahl call “very outdated.”

The new call-light system will replace the old fashion buzzer with a pager for each staff member. The staff will carry the pager which indicates who has paged them, or other kinds of emergencies.

The new call-light system will produce a weekly report by shift, by nursing unit, which will allow the care center to track and report on the response time of the staff.

“Health care is becoming more and more information intensive, but it is good information to have. Sometimes we have to look at when the response call lights are longer and readjust staffing. The only way we can do that is to get accurate information,” Opsahl said.

Three grants, one from the Minnesota Department of Health for $85,000, one from insurance provider Prime West in McLeod County for $60,000, and a matching grant program of $10,000 from BHS, were given to St. Mary’s to increase its staff capabilities of safely moving patients during their daily care. This would include bariatric (heavy) patients, as well.

Opsahl explained that the general population is getting larger in size and weight and becoming more difficult for staff to handle safely.

“A patient’s arms and legs moving a little bit and your back has to tense to take that pressure. So even 100 pounds can be dangerous for a staff member,” Opsahl said. “If it is dangerous for the staff member, it is dangerous for the patient as well.”

Much of this grant money is being spent on safe patient handling equipment, beds and mattresses for bariatric patients, and ceiling lifts.

With the new ceiling lifts, it only requires one staff member to help a patient. With the older full lifts it takes two.

“Long term, we would like to get a ceiling lift in every room,” Opsahl said.

The new safe handling equipment allows St. Mary’s the capability to handle additional bariatric patients requiring nursing home care. This will mean shorter hospital stays which will mean a savings to the consumer.

Project summary:

St. Mary’s Care Center renovations

• moving the physical therapy space to a new location in the building.

• installing a new ceiling track system in the new physical therapy location (type of lift) to help patients support themselves during exercise and therapy sessions. (This will provide a therapy option not available anywhere else in this area.)

• creating eight new private resident rooms (often requested), four of them with private baths.

• new shower room.

• new flooring on the second level.

• linking the facility to the new clinic that is being constructed.

• fire sprinkling areas of the building not currently sprinkled (currently 70 percent of the building has a sprinkling system including all patient rooms).

• replacing a hot-water reheat system in all resident rooms and main corridors.

• repair and modify the roof and fix any water issues.

• replace 12 downspouts and address any grade or landscaping issues at downspouts.

Proposed newly constructed Ridgeview Medical Center-Winsted Clinic facility:

• adjoining clinic will be approximately 8,000 square feet.

• the clinic will include treatment rooms and medical equipment allowing the clinic to provide services to the community.

• physicians will be based at the clinic full time.

• Ridgeview will enter into a long term lease for the clinic building.

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