A tiny town with big supportA few years ago, local officials did some research and discovered that McVille, a town of about 400, holds the distinction of being the largest rural healthcare delivery system serving the smallest town in America.
By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald
McVILLE, N.D. — A few years ago, local officials did some research and discovered that McVille, a town of about 400, holds the distinction of being the largest rural healthcare delivery system serving the smallest town in America.
Well the community is about to further bolster that claim.
Nelson County Health Systems will hold a grand opening/open house from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday for its new 12-unit McVille Assisted Living Complex.
A grand opening program will be held at 2:30 p.m. Speakers include Mayor Robert Stanley, NCHA Administrator Cathy Swenson, as well as other local and state officials.
“Seniors are the great majority of our population in McVille and Nelson County, so being able to provide them assistance in their living so they can maintain their independence and remain active in the community is very important,” Swenson said.
While the majority of the $2.2 million project is being financed through a 30-year bond through the North Dakota Public Finance Authority, it couldn’t have been done without local voter approval, Mayor Robert Stanley said.
“There’s been a hospital in McVille since the beginning of McVille. There’s tremendous community support,” he said.
Last July, 83 percent of voters approved a 1-percent increase in the city’s sales tax to pay for local healthcare.
That one-percent tax brings in $16,000 to $22,000 annually, according to City Auditor Renae Arneson. The city’s other one-percent tax goes to city infrastructure and economic development.
The community stretches beyond McVille to all corners of Nelson County, plus, parts of Grand Forks, Griggs and Eddy counties, according to Teri Huso, executive director of NCHS Foundation and a member of McVille City Council.
Employees live in five different counties, according to Swenson.
“Everyone realizes that’s what keeps McVille going,” Huso said.
McVille’s first hospital opened in 1917. Dr. A.O. Arneson, who arrived in 1906, was the community’s first physician. Today, McVille is served by three physicians, Dr. Erling Martinson, Dr. Tam Czarnik and Dr. Robin Cox, plus Nurse Practitioner Darlene Kelly.
The new assisted living center, located at 514 N. Olsgard St., is an addition to the NCHS Care Center, a 39-bed skilled nursing facility. It wraps around the north side of the building, creating an outdoor courtyard for residents.
It includes four two-bedroom and eight one-bedroom private rental apartments. Seven of them already have been reserved, and the new residents will begin moving in this month, according to Steve Forde, NCHS chief financial officer.
NCHS also includes:
- NCHS Hospital, a 19-bed primary care critical access facility that offers acute care, swing bed, emergency care and respite services.
- McVille Medical Clinic.
- Lakota Health Center, a clinic in Lakota, N.D., the Nelson County seat.
NCHS also provides home care, hospice and other services through Altru Health Systems, Grand Forks.
The entire NCHS employs about 95, including three to four full-time equivalent staff members at the new assisted living center.
Because the care center and the assisted living center are connected — by a large activity room — many services, such as housekeeping and cooking, will be shared.
The new assisted living center is decorated in an arts and crafts décor, with featuring warm colors of tans, browns and adobe with rich walnut-color oak doors line the halls, dining, and lounge and entrance areas.
Skylights provide natural light in the main hallway.
The building is equipped with a geothermal heating/cooling system.
Contributions toward the building have come from: Nelson County Jobs Development Authority; the former McVille Development Corporation; and the North Dakota Telephone Company.
One benefactor, Carole Brown, a Rochester, Minn., resident whose parents lived in McVille, provided the lion’s share of $30,000 in contributions that are being used to furnish and decorate the common areas, including kitchen and dining rooms, as well as a living room.
“We have progressive people,” Arneson said. “We have an opportunistic group of people who are willing to take a chance on something necessary to help keep the community together.”
That spirit applies not only to the healthcare system, but to local education and business.
McVille is home to Dakota Prairie Elementary School, which has 34 employees, 125 students in K-6 and about 30 in its Head Start program.
The city built and owns the McVille Restaurant, which also serves as a community center/meeting room. Previously, the city’s only café was located in the local bowling alley, which Arneson said was not conducive to remodeling into the type of facility locals wanted.
“This is a beautiful community,” Swenson said. “We’re very privileged to be a part of it. There’s not many places you can go where you go into the emergency room or the hospital and they know you by name, or you see somebody at the grocery store and somebody will say, ‘thanks for taking care of my cat while I was in the hospital.’”
For more information about NCHS, call (701) 322-4328.
Reach Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 110; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.