Assisted living no longer a viable option for Stafholt

Published on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 by Brandy Kiger Shreve

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Sometimes staying true to your mission means making hard decisions.

Good Samaritan Society-Stafholt home has announced that beginning October 18, it will no longer offer assisted living services for seniors at its facility in Blaine.

Director Wayne Weinschenk said that although the decision was driven partly by finances, citing the state’s low reimbursement rates for Medicaid patients, it was motivated more by the moral quandary they found themselves in regarding their mission as a religious organization. 

“It ultimately came down to money or mission for us,” he said. “Our mission is to care for whoever is in need. But, with assisted living, you can legally make the choice to turn away a Medicaid patient in favor of a private-pay patient, and that just didn’t fit. We’re not in it for profit, and as a skilled nursing facility, we take everyone – first come, first served.”

Weinschenk said that the 15 rooms in the assisted living facility will be converted to more skilled nursing facility rooms for the home, and they will expand their services to offer short-term Medicare stays instead. “It’s something that we haven’t had the ability to do until now,” he said. “We think it’s a service that will be valuable to the community.”

Medicare stays are for short-term patients who will eventually return home, according to Weinschenk, and generally average around 18 days. Typically they are due to hospital procedures that need extended care without the cost. 

“A lot of things that would have been done in hospitals 10 years ago are done in skilled nursing facilities now,” he said. “If you’re older and have knee surgery, you’re going to need help getting back up and on your feet, and a Medicare stay here can take care of that for a fraction of the cost that it would be in the hospital.”

He added that because the rooms in the assisted living wing will be opening up, the facility could also begin offering more private rooms to existing and prospective clients. “There’s a greater push for privacy and independence these days,” he said. “It’s just one more way we can serve the community.”

No current residents will be displaced because of the change.

“We made a decision two years ago to stop accepting new assisted living patients,” Weinshenck said. “By attrition, our numbers have been thinned down to six. Those six qualify for the skilled nursing facility and will be absorbed into that, and will begin receiving a higher level of care.”

While Weinschenk said he regrets that they have to discontinue the assisted living services, he said it was a decision that was best for Stafholt in the long run.

“We wish we could offer the service, but as small as our facility is, it just wasn’t viable for us to continue,” Weinshenck said. “We were losing money every day.”