Nursing home business is growing in Sandstone

June 30, 2017

The nursing home business is growing.

That was the report given to the North Pine Area Hospital District during its meeting last Tuesday, when one of the owners of the Sandstone Healthcare Center reported there are now 25 residents at the facility since it was purchased on May 17, up from 19 residents, or a 32 percent increase.

“The next wave is to bring on staff to bring it up to 50,” said Tom Opatz, who owns the Sandstone facility along with Fred Struzyk.

Opatz said they are continuing to get calls for openings in the nursing home, and “we feel we will fill.”
Opatz said the changeover has been a real smooth transition, and Essentia staff has been helpful in answering questions about the facility.

“They (the residents) are happy. They are happy with the hospital and happy with the district,” Opatz said.
Essentia Health-Sandstone CEO Michael Hedrix was also very complimentary of the new ownership.
“The transaction between you and Fred put a bow on the whole thing,” Hedrix said.

Essentia is renting space at the current nursing home. Since the new hospital plan did not include an ambulance garage, it remains based at the nursing home, and they are also using office space.


Opatz said they are still exploring other uses for the former clinic and hospital space, but nothing is definite at this point.

Hospital auxiliary
Patt Makela and Sylvia Anderson were at the board meeting to give a report on the hospital auxiliary.
The organization started in 1988, and began with about 70 women members. Men could also join the group. Makela said the group held a variety of fundraisers to help raise money for the nursing home, hospital and ambulance service in Sandstone including fashion shows, soup lunches, love lights, selling books, a magic show, the Taste of Sandstone, and a spring fling. Money was raised for things not in regular budgets.

Over the last 29 years, the organization has raised a total of $178,085. The number could be even higher, Anderson said, but the organization did not keep a track of everything they donated in the early years.

Along with helping raise funds, they also worked on supporting the hospital for whatever it might have need including blood drives and helping put news out on bulletin boards. They also have gotten clothing for people who were injured and used the emergency room, since their clothes were ruined in accidents.

“I don’t know what the future is since we are down to five to six members,” Makela said. “We have a very illustrious past.”

Board member Scott Hendricks said he wanted the hospital board to have an update on this organization so each board member could help enlist new members to the organization. Makela said that Hendricks’ mother was the organization’s first president.

“I know my mother was very proud of the things we did,” Hendricks said.
To join, you can reach Makela at 233-7493 or Anderson at 245-8360.

The organization meets the fourth Monday of each month at 2 p.m. at the new hospital board room.
New business park sign

Several of the hospital board members were not happy with the size of the business park sign that was paid for by the city, saying it was too small and hard to read.

The sign was recently put on the road leading to the hospital, for which the city paid $30,000 excluding planned electric to the sign.

“That sign coming in there stinks,” said board member Gary Klein. “It doesn’t help us any.”
Board member Bill Olson said the hospital district needed to talk to the city about the sign.
The entities at the business park are charged only for the slots that are placed on the sign.
There were other signage concerns as well regarding the placement of blue hospital signs.

Olson also reported the bistro is now complete, and could begin serving the public in another two weeks.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of the building,” Olson said.

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