Crookston nursing home set to close, more in region on 'brink' of closure
Experts blame the "crisis" on the lack of staffing.
CROOKSTON, Minn. — Beyond crisis mode. That's how one advocacy group for nursing homes in Minnesota describes the future care for elder Minnesotans.
Riverview Health has operated some sort of nursing home facility in Crookston since 1970. That will change in the coming weeks.
Riverview Memory Care will close by May 31.
"I didn't expect this kind of a call," said David Wilson as he choked up.
He is still in shock that he has to find his 102-year-old mother a new home.
She has lived at Riverview Memory Care for the past decade. Wilson refers to the staff there as family.
"She says she probably wouldn't be around if it wouldn't have been for the good care, the food, (and) the help she needed," Wilson said.
"The decision, really, is driven by financial performance," said Riverview Health CEO Carrie Michalski.
Michalski said the memory care facility has been running in the red for decades. The shortfalls have been covered by the hospital's profits. Last year, however, the hospital finished $6.5 million in the hole, most of it attributed to the memory care center.
"Our core business is providing the emergency room and access to emergency care for our community," Michalski said.
Michalski said the biggest reason for the "decomposition" of the nursing home was lack of staffing. Traveling nurses cost them nearly $750,000 last year.
$500,000 will be reimbursed by the state.
Those nurses account for a third of the hours worked.
At Riverview, nurses at the memory care facility make an average of $5 more per hour than nurses at the clinic and hospital where staffing is not as much of a problem.
"Care giving needs to be seen as a noble profession, and we need to really honor and support our nurses and nursing assistants that choose long term care," Michalski said.
"I would say it's worse than a crisis mode," said Patti Cullen, CEO for Care Providers of Minnesota.
Cullen also said the biggest issue is staffing. Her group has been advocating for a cash infusion from the state Legislature to increase average pay statewide for nurses at nursing homes from $16 per hour to $25.
More than half-a-dozen nursing homes have closed this year across Minnesota.
"I do know that there's — not too far from you — there are some facilities that are on the brink of closure." Cullen said. "We know there's one in northern Minnesota that has borrowed all their cash, their bank loans are done and the board has been meeting to figure out when they are going to give their notice for closure."
Wilson remembers a conversation with his mother, where she suggested he move to Riverview Memory Care one day. Now his family is one of 17 looking for a new facility for their loved ones.
Riverview is working with another facility in town for those who want to stay in Crookston. However, Wilson still isn't sure what to do with his mother.
"You don't know what to expect in a new place, especially if it's a larger place," he said.
The 15 staff members at Riverview, which does not include traveling nurses, will be offered jobs at the hospital or clinic once it closes.