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North Shore Healthcare to buy Sannes Skogdalen

SOLDIERS GROVE - North Shore Healthcare is in the process of acquiring the Sannes Skogdalen-Heim Nursing Home in Soldiers Grove, according to David Mills, a managing partner of that Milwaukee-based company.

North Shore Healthcare currently owns 44 long-term care nursing homes in Wisconsin. They essentially more than doubled the number of facilities under their control, when a deal to acquire 28 facilities from the failing Fortis Management went into effect at midnight Sunday, Oct. 1.

With that acquisition, North Shore Healthcare now has more than 3,000 employees, Mills noted. By November 1, the company plans to have closed on the Sannes Skogdalen acquisition.

Things have been moving at a torrid pace on both sides of the state it would seem. Just as North Shore Healthcare was poised to take over operation of 28 nursing homes, they became aware that Sannes Skogdalen was available.

“In 48 hours, we were in a car driving across the state to see it,” Mills said Monday, remembering the events of last Thursday and Friday. North Shore apparently liked what they saw.

“You can just see it as you approach the building,” Mills said Monday. “It’s the well-maintained grounds. Even before you walk in the door, you can feel it.”

Mills cited the virtues of the small communities as the work ethic and the fact everyone cares. He noted many of the facilities owned by North Shore are in smaller communities.

While North Shore dealt with the suddenness of the developing situation at Sannes Skogdalen last week, so did the residents and staff of the nursing home.

On Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23, nursing home residents received letters from Community Health Services Inc. that the facility would be closing in 90 days and nursing home residents would be relocated to other facilities. The Prairie du Chien-based company cited several financial reasons for the closing in the letter sent to residents. This also meant the staff would have to find new jobs.

At meetings held last Tuesday evening, CHS announced a buyer was interested and negotiations were underway to sell the nursing home to another company. Residents and their families were told they should put off any action aimed at relocation. Employees were told that they should consider waiting with their job searches.

Shortly, representatives from North Shore Healthcare were at Sannes Skogdalen looking over the facility and meeting the residents and the staff. Furthermore, they liked what they saw, according to Mills.

“The real question when you look at a nursing home is, is this the kind of place you would want your mom or dad to receive care?” Mills said. “The resounding answer was yes. You could see it in the staff’s eyes—their passion for the work.”

So less than two weeks after an announcement the nursing home would close, things have come full circle. North Shore sees great potential for the nursing home.

Mills joined North Shore’s founders Troy Baumann and Jeff Hoehn about six months ago. All three men have deep backgrounds in nursing home management and operations. They also have some pretty solid education in their resumes.

Mills focuses on operational excellence and future business development for North Shore, according to his bio. In his 30-year career, he has served as a nursing home administrator, director of sales, vice president of human resources, region vice president of operations, division president and chief operating officer. He graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a degree in Heath Care Administration.

Troy Baumann is the President of North Shore Healthcare. He has 25 years of executive level experience with 15 of those years in post acute care. Baumann led a management company with 18 facilities in four states and grew that company’s revenue from $40 million to over $100 million in seven years. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and received a master’s degree in accounting at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Jeff Hoehn is a co-founder of North Shore Healthcare. He brings many years of executive level success in Wisconsin. That includes helping a troubled institution regain financial stability in three years. Hoehn has proven himself as a facilitator of change and responsible care, able to balance the tight rope of providing the finest level of quality and responsible, sustainable business model, according to his company bio. He graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration and is a licensed nursing home administrator, pursuing his master’s degree in business administration from Marquette University.

Mills said that North Shore believes it can bring its structure and its national vendor contracts to bear helping Sannes Skogdalen find financial success. He believes the keys for the local nursing home will be to continue to provide the kind of quality care they’ve been providing while increasing the census. He wants to fill more of those 50 available beds with residents that can benefit from the services and programs offered at the nursing home.

However, the first order of business might be reestablishing a little order at the facility after a tumultuous two weeks. Mills feels the residents need to know they have a place to stay with the same quality of care they are used to receiving and the staff needs to know they have jobs.

“Transition and change create uncertainty,” Mills said. “In the coming weeks and months, we need to build a level of trust. We’re very excited by the community and we hope everyone there is equally excited. We have to earn this optimism and openness on a journey together and we can be very successful. We need to in front of it. Change can be very unsettling. It’s really hard to not let in uncertainty. It’s very difficult but we now need a clear plan to minimize a lot of anxiety.”

It’s hard to say exactly what the future of Sannes Skogdalen will be in Soldiers Grove. However, one thing is certain. Things are very different than they were two weeks ago.

While local residents and nursing home staff have provided the Independent-Scout with some information about the situation at the nursing home over the past two weeks, we have not been able to get an official response from Community Health Services, the current owner of Sannes Skogdalen.