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Area Good Samaritan awaits OK to add beds

PIPESTONE -- Administrators for the Good Samaritan Society facilities in Pipestone County were pursuing expansion before this week's announcement that the Ashton Care Center will close this fall.

Phillip Samuelson, the administrator for the Edgebrook Care Center in Edgerton and the Good Samaritan Society-Pipestone, said he is awaiting permission from the Minnesota Department of Health to add beds within the existing Pipestone facility.

"We have downsized over the years, so there are opportunities within the existing building," Samuelson explained.

Currently, he said there is one vacancy between the two centers, but more may open up for the 39 displaced care center residents.

"We admit about 10 each month, so there is some turnover," he said. "We do a lot of short-term rehab; we have a lot of people come and go."

The facilities are currently placing potential residents on a waiting list.

"Our goal is obviously to allow Pipestone residents to stay within the community," Samuelson said. Other options for residents include the Society's Ridge View Estates in Pipestone or the home care program.

"We're trying to work with the hospital to make sure we have a smooth transition for those residents," he said.

PCMC CEO Brad Burris said Friday five residents have made arrangements to transfer to other facilities. As of last week, his staff was able to locate 65 vacancies within a 40-mile radius of Pipestone.

"But some folks don't want to go out that far," he added. "I'm confident that with the bed transfer to the local Good Sam facility, those who want to stay in Pipestone will be able to do so. We have some of the best staff members around and they literally love these residents. They will do everything they can to assist the residents with this transition."

Residents must be placed before the facility closes its doors in mid-September, putting 40 employees out of work.

Burris said both unionized and non-union staff will receive a severance package.

"This was a very, very hard decision," he emphasized. "There was no practical way to significantly reduce or eliminate the loss. If we don't address this, then at some point in the future it would become detrimental to other health care services provided by the county."

Ashton Care Center residents and employees were informed Monday of the facility's impending closure. The Pipestone County Medical Center Board made the decision to close June 15, citing losses totaling more than $2.4 million during the past five years and Medicaid reimbursements deemed inadequate to cover daily resident care costs.

The 43-bed center opened in 1964 and has been in its current building since 1984.