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Herald Journal Publishing
PO Box 129
Winsted, MN 55395
(320) 485-2535

published July 2010

Transitional care and therapy expansion scheduled at Augustana Lakeside

As a longtime volunteer and recent patient at the non-profit Augustana Lakeside Health Care Center in Dassel, Tudy Pankake is excited that Augustana Lakeside is expanding its transitional care unit, creating an independent wing for short-term stays and adding more space for therapy.

“I feel very fortunate to have a facility like this in Dassel,” Pankake stated.

The expanded wing will offer a separate entrance and space, including private rooms with televisions and phones, and a special lounge/coffee shop with a computer center for families and individuals needing transitional care.

In addition, there will be 40 percent more space dedicated to therapy, creating “more effective and efficient space for therapists and patients,” says Augustana Lakeside Health Care Administrator Bill Ward.

As of June 1, Augustana Care has been handling all aspects of therapy services at Lakeside, and former patients like Lowell Tritabaugh have remarked on the smoothness of the transition. “I was amazed at how quickly the new therapist took over, even on the first appointment,” he stated.

Pankake was already familiar with Lakeside, because her husband was a resident in the long-term health care center. After his passing, she volunteered at the center, helping with pizza parties in the activity room.

“Tudy is like family to us,” stated Director of Nursing Juli Miller.

Pankake battled knee problems for many years. In recent years, her knee worsened and she opted for surgery, and later recovered at the Lakeside Health Care Center’s transitional care unit.

“They were very helpful about getting me up, dressed, into a wheelchair, and into the therapy room to work with me. The staff was helpful, considerate, and kind,” she stated.

During her therapy, Pankake began bicycling, walking up and down stairs, and exercising, which had seemed almost unachievable when she first emerged from surgery.

She is now glad to be home, but appreciated that staff members convinced her to stay three days longer than she had originally planned. “To me, that means they really care,” Pankake says.

Transitional care patients like Pankake will find an enhanced experience in the new unit, with upgraded rooms, bigger baths, and a new shower area to give people the option of choosing a shower or bath.

Ward feels the expansion will make a big difference to the quality of patients’ experience, stating “The original model of a nursing home is rooted in the 1960s and 1970s, when people stayed in the hospital for months. We’ve become a totally different thing nowadays.”

Miller agrees, adding that “A few years back, someone was in the hospital for a week to 10 days if they got a knee replacement. Now, they have to leave much sooner because of Medicare guidelines.” Yet, most individuals find they are not ready to go home and need some sort of transitional care. Augustana Lakeside Health Care Center fills that role in Dassel and surrounding communities.

“We take pride in helping people,” stated Miller. “They might come in and can’t walk or do anything for themselves. By the time they are sent home, they can thrive.”

In the last fiscal year, Lakeside Health Care Center had 101 admissions, of which 62 went home or to a lesser-care setting, like assisted living. This number includes people who have had surgery, strokes, infections requiring intravenous therapy and other issues which can be extremely debilitating, especially for older adults.

Augustana Lakeside’s transitional care staff are especially pleased that the majority of their patients return to their homes and lives.

Staff members are also excited about the expansion. “I see a lot of strengths here that will only enhance the care provided,” stated nurse and Social Services Coordinator Margie Anderson. “Part of that is having excellent therapy and rehabilitation facilities.”

Construction is expected to begin in August, and is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

For more information, call Bill Ward at (320) 275-3308, or visit for information about Augustana Care’s programs and services throughout the metropolitan area.

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