Crookston skilled nursing facility RiverView Memory Care to close

In a press release on Friday, March 17, RiverView Health announced RiverView Memory Care will be closing after ongoing staffing issues.

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Town sign in Crookston, Minn. (Grand Forks Herald)

CROOKSTON, Minn. – RiverView Health in Crookston is closing its skilled nursing facility after experiencing ongoing issues with finding nurses and nursing assistants to staff it.

In a press release on Friday, March 17, RiverView Health announced RiverView Memory Care will be closing and that “resident transition teams” are working with residents’ families to relocate the 17 residents.

RiverView Health responded to requests for comment by referring the Grand Forks Herald to LeadingAge Minnesota, a statewide organization of senior care providers, of which RiverView Memory Care is a member. LeadingAge Minnesota President and CEO Kari Thurlow said she could speak to the broader context of nursing home closures, but not to specifics of RiverView Memory Care. Further requests for comment to RiverView Health were not returned before this report published.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison repeated his concern that the planned March 31 merger date is "too ambitious."

In recent years, RiverView Memory Care has had to hire temporary traveling staff because of a shortage of licensed nurses and nursing assistants. In 2022, the cost of traveling labor almost doubled, said the press release. Traveling labor costs were more than $725,000 at RiverView Memory Care.

While the state partially reimburses nursing homes for traveling staff, reimbursement rates have not kept pace with inflation, meaning hospitals like RiverView Health have to pay remaining expenses, according to the release.


"Without the state of Minnesota acting to ensure skilled nursing facility rates are adequate to cover the cost of care, hospitals that own skilled nursing facilities, like RiverView, are forced to cover the losses from depleting hospital reserves," Carrie Michalski, RiverView president and CEO, said in the press release. "These losses also take a toll on the community health system.”

Thurlow said RiverView Memory Care is not unique in struggling with staffing or paying traveling nurses.

“You’re seeing situations just like what is happening in Crookston happening all over the state, where we have skyrocketing labor costs, especially due to traveling and temporary staff, needing those temporary staff and not having costs covered by current reimbursement rates,” said Thurlow.

Benedictine, which operates the skilled nursing facility Benedictine Living Community in Crookston, and RiverView Health have established an agreement to transfer residents that wish to stay in Crookston to Benedictine Living Community.

In the press release, Michalski said she expects the state to provide an estimated $49,000 in annual incentive payments to skilled nursing facilities near Crookston due to the RiverView Memory Care closure.

“We are hopeful the state will agree that 100% of that money should stay in Crookston to strengthen the funding for services in our area,” she said. “If it takes our small unit closing for the state to better fund services in the community, that will be a silver lining to this very difficult decision.”

Thurlow said the state offers a bed closure incentive rate to nursing homes closing or downsizing to help cover costs incurred while closing, but that money does not go to other nursing homes. Instead, it would stay within the RiverView Health system to cover the costs of closing the nursing home.

“What I’m seeing in this is that they’re hoping to use those incentives payments to cover some of the costs that were not covered previously and to help support their entire health system,” she said.


For RiverView Memory Care staff, severance packages and retention incentives have been offered, said the release.

Thurlow said RiverView Memory Care will be the 15th nursing home to close in Minnesota since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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