Health & Medical Resources Guide
Herald Journal Health & Medical Resources Guide
published July 2011
Care Centers that care: St. Mary's in Winsted, Howard Lake Good Samaritan Center
By Starrla Cray, Staff Writer
Stepping into Howard Lake Good Samaritan Center or St. Mary’s Care Center in Winsted, one is likely to notice a sense of peace and happiness.
“It’s because of the people who live and work there,” Howard Lake Good Samaritan Center Administrator Laura Rindfleisch said.
Both facilities are rooted in strong values, compassionate care, and Christian faith.
“The goal is to make the centers as much like home as possible,” Rindfleisch said. “It’s definitely not an institutional setting.”
Residents can sleep in, eat breakfast whenever they want, and participate in all kinds of social activities.
“It’s shifting more toward hospitality,” said Christina Gamaldi, administrator of St. Mary’s Care Center in Winsted. “The resident is in charge.”
“Whoever lives here decides what we do,” Rindfleisch added. “It’s always changing.”
At St. Mary’s, popular outings include Twins games and trips to Mystic Lake Casino.
“That’s just what they like,” Gamaldi said.
At Good Samaritan, residents often go out for ice cream and to apple orchards. Volunteers also help set up a fishing day on Lake Pulaski in Buffalo.
“They absolutely love it,” Rindfleisch said. “It’s a riot.”
Satisfaction surveys and suggestion boxes help the staff continuously improve their facilities.
“Some of the best suggestions come from residents themselves,” Gamaldi said.
All levels of care
Both St. Mary’s and Good Samaritan are working to develop a “continuum of care” on their campuses.
The last phase of St. Mary’s planning includes a market-rate memory care assisted living facility. Currently, the center exclusively offers income-based assisted living units.
Good Samaritan also has plans to build an assisted living facility in the future, Rindfleisch added.
Both centers offer rehab/skilled care, inpatient therapy, hospice care, memory care, respite care, and more. Some people only stay for a few days, while others make it their long-term home.
In addition to quality inpatient care, both centers also offer advanced outpatient therapy.
“We have innovative ways to keep people in their homes, because that’s where they want to be,” Gamaldi said. “We want to make sure they can go home and be successful.”
From 20-year-olds recovering from an injury to 100-year-old Alzheimer’s patients, Gamaldi and Rindfleisch have seen many ages and need levels.
“I would say there is no typical resident,” Gamaldi said.
“People think of nursing homes as just elderly people, but it’s really a wide range,” Rindfleisch added. “We’re here to serve.”
One perk of working at a health care facility is seeing short-stay patients after they’ve recovered, according to both administrators.
“A guy who had a double-knee replacement and was here for therapy came in later and told us that he was able to plow snow all winter long,” Rindfleisch said. “That’s very rewarding when people come in and thank us.”
Gamaldi and Rindfleisch said they build lasting relationships with many of their residents. If someone passes away, staff members attend the funeral, and the center puts together a bedside memorial.
“By far the best part of my job is the residents,” Rindfleisch said. “It’s like I have 40 grandmas and grandpas.”
“There’s nothing more satisfying than giving staff the ability to make a difference in people’s lives,” Gamaldi added.
Volunteers are also a crucial part of the success at Good Samaritan and St. Mary’s.
“They make miracles possible,” Gamaldi said.
“I don’t think they realize how important it is what they do,” Rindfleisch added. “It’s extra smiles and extra helping hands.”
Gamaldi recommends that volunteers choose something they love and share that with the residents.
“They love to continue to learn,” she said. “We want you to be you, and give them a little of that.”
Gamaldi and Rindfleisch suggested teaching a computer class, playing music, singing, quilting, doing magic tricks, gardening, joke telling, German lessons, video games, or any other hobbies people may have.
“Anything and everything,” Rindfleisch said.
“If you want to do it, we have people who would absolutely love it,” Gamaldi said.