News of sale of Benedictine Health System came as surprise to everyone

The recent news that the Benedictine Health System sold St. Isidore and Green Prairie Place came as a surprise to all: the residents, the staff, and to those of us who served on the St. Isidore Foundation. We all understood that times have been tough in the senior care industry, but had no inkling that our facilities might be a casualty of those tough times. To add to our pain, the announcement came on the heels of the great success of The Taste of Greenwood Prairie. We didn’t even have time to bask in the delight of over 300 people enjoying good food, good music, and good auctions for a great cause. When the news of the sale was announced to the staff on Tuesday, September 15, the party was definitely over! Our initial reaction to the news could be categorized as disappointment and disbelief, but with time, we have been able to reflect on the announcement and its impact on our community. This is what we know…
First of all, the good news. The work of the St. Isidore Foundation has greatly benefited the residents and staff on the St. Isidore Campus. The Foundation was established by BHS in 2007 to increase community support for the non-profit facility. As a result of the Foundation’s work and the community’s generosity, the facility has installed a spa room for residents, added a front porch, purchased a van, built a garage in which to store it, constructed a patio for the Green Prairie residents, acquired new outdoor furniture, and just this year purchased equipment that has been on the staff’s wish list for years: new Hoyer lifts, a high-low table for therapy, and much, much more. Without the encouragement and support from BHS to help us create our foundation, we doubt that our community could have made so many improvements for the individuals who call our campus home. For that, we are grateful.
Because the past few years have been difficult ones for the senior health care industry, BHS found itself in the unenviable position of having to restructure in order to remain viable. But why St. Isidore? One of the problems facing our nursing home is the age of its building. Because the structure is nearly fifty years old, it has reached a point where it is in need of major capital improvements - and fixes for medical facilities aren’t cheap. An electric handicapped accessible door has a price tag of $26,000; a new back-up generator is $70,000. BHS has stated that the new owner, Cambridge Realty Capital, is a holding company for health care facilities with the financial resources able to finance those capital improvements when needed. Cambridge Realty, in turn, will lease the building to a For Profit company which will manage our day to day operations. The difficult part of this scenario is waiting to find out who the management company will be. The staff has been told that the decision will be made before the end of the year. Until that time, BHS will continue to manage the day to day operations.
So exactly what does the future hold? We, as well as the staff, wish we knew. What we do know is that the staff will continue to do what they have always done – care for their residents and clients to the very best of their ability. People who choose to work with the elderly don’t do it to get rich. They do it because they have a genuine appreciation for who the elderly are. As part of its branding, BHS touted that their core values were respect, justice, hospitality and stewardship. That has been a way of life in our little town’s nursing home since the day a senior care facility was first built. We have something that all the new gleaming facilities being built in Rochester and area cities lack. Community. The strength of our local nursing home is that the feeling of community is already built in. Our residents are cared for by their neighbors, friends and family - and that kind of commitment and service isn’t going anywhere.
And the future of the Foundation? Because we are to be managed by a For Profit company, the St. Isidore Foundation can no longer exist as we know it. However, the members of the board are determined to continue to support the residents and staff of the St. Isidore campus. They are meeting this week to talk about how that can be achieved. As Co-Directors of the St. Isidore Foundation, we would like to thank this community for its generosity and the support they have shown to the residents and staff of St. Isidore and Green Prairie Place. Our facility may not be the biggest in the state, and it certainly doesn’t have all the bells and whistles found in the newer facilities – but the compassion and sense of community to be found in the northwest corner of Plainview is hard to beat.
Penny Hoekstra
Patty Prody

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