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Sannes Skogdalen Nursing Homes future is uncertain

SOLDIERS GROVE - It’s been a topsy-turvy couple of days at the Sannes Skogdalen-Heim Nursing Home in Soldiers Grove for residents, employees and a whole lot of other people.

It started with Community Health Services Corporation Board of Trustees deciding to close the facility that is currently home to 37 residents in 90 days.

The corporation, which owns the nursing home, notified the residents in letters hand-delivered by the facility’s activities director. Most familiar with the situation described the effect of receiving those letters announcing the closing of the facility as “devastating” to the residents.

“The CHSC Board of Trustees made this very difficult decision due to several factors: the continuing difficulty to maintain at least 45 residents per month; the shift from private pay residents to nearly 100 percent Medicaid; and finally Medicaid reimbursement rates that cover less than 65 percent of the monthly operating expenses,” the letter stated.

There is a 50-bed capacity at Sannes Skogdalen, and there are currently 36 or 37 residents at the facility. About 90 people are employed at the nursing home including the part-time employees. It is by far the largest single employer in the village.

The letter given to the residents last Friday and Saturday also outlined what the residents could expect in terms of relocation assistance from the nursing home during the transition period. It also described their rights in this situation under the law, and responsibilities of the nursing home to properly assist them in their relocation.

The letter also invited the residents to an informational meeting at the nursing home on Tuesday, Sept 26 at 6:30 p.m.  When a large crowd of concerned local residents showed up to attend the meeting, they were told the meeting at 6:30 p.m. would be for residents and their families only. The Independent-Scout was not allowed to attend that meeting despite the desire of some families to have the newspaper present. A second meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. was open to the public.

So what happened at the meetings Tuesday night? People present at both meetings confirmed that there was a presentation led by Bob Severson, a board trustee of Community Health Service Corporation, and attended by at least four other board members.

Severson told the group during both meetings that CHSC now has a prospective buyer for the facility. The group was also assured that the corporation will know tomorrow if there is a deal to buy the facility.

One person present at the first meeting was former village president Jerry Moran. He said that there were no specifics offered as to whom the buyer was.

The group was told that the prospective buyers were on-site yesterday, according to Moran.

CCHS also formally apologized at the first meeting, to the residents and family members, for the method in which they were notified.

Many had objected to telling the residents by way of a letter that the facility was closing, especially without making an effort to have the families present at the time of the notification.

A staff member of Ron Kind’s office was in Soldiers Grove to attend the meeting.

Because of the possibility of an impending sale, residents and employees were told not to make arrangements to leave, according to Moran. They were told the new entity that would buy the facility wants them all.

However, if the deal does not go through, the corporation will proceed as they had said with the relocation of residents.

Former village president Laurel Hestetune, who attended the second meeting, said they were told that if the sale happens. the new owners would take over running the nursing home on November 1.