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New leadership works to improve local care centers

Sister facilities Crossroads and South Shore care centers have a new administrator and new directors of nursing. In the past several months, they have worked to improve the environment in the Worthington facilities.

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New and long-time leadership at Crossroads and South Shore care centers in Worthington posed for a photo earlier this week. New leadership includes Stacey Luong (back, from left), director of nursing at South Shore; Jessica Larson, director of nursing at Crossroads and Tess Pridal, administrator for both Crossroads and South Shore care centers. All three joined the care facilities last summer. Seated in front are South Shore's new social services coordinator Megan Schmidt (left), and Crossroads' 20-year social services coordinator/activity director Anita Miller. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — New leaders at South Shore and Crossroads care centers in Worthington have put a renewed emphasis on quality of care and home life environment for residents, whether their stay is long- or short-term.

Tess Pridal was named administrator of the care centers last July, bringing with her two long-time associates in Stacy Luong, the new director of nursing at South Shore and Jessica Larson, the new director of nursing at Crossroads. In December, they added Megan Schmidt, social services coordinator for South Shore. Schmidt’s cohort is Anita Miller, a 20-year employee of Crossroads who also serves as that facility’s activity director.

Pridal said since her hiring, the leadership has made several cosmetic changes to the sister care facilities, from new interior paint and furniture to the addition of fireplaces. Meanwhile, an emphasis has been placed on staff training to ensure employees have the knowledge and information to meet patients’ needs, whether related to mental health or trauma.

In July, Crossroads developed a locked unit for memory care patients, which adds to the safety of all residents.

“We just want the community to know we’re here and we’re here for them,” Pridal said.

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Both care centers, owned by Superior Health Care, welcome visitors, and would love to have volunteers come in to reminisce with or even read to residents.

“There aren’t as many volunteers as there used to be and there is a need for that,” said Luong.

“There’s lots of hobbies people have that they could come in and share,” added Miller. Quilt show-and-tells and even car shows are welcomed by the care centers.

“We’d love to have pets come in — of all kinds,” Larson added.

Visitors and activities play a significant role in a resident’s time while in the care center. During the spring, summer and fall, bus transportation is available to take residents on outings to restaurants, shops and even to the casino — activities that add enjoyment to their days.

Pridal said residents are asked to complete surveys upon their discharge, and the results have been increasingly good.

“They like the facility, they feel they’ve been taken care of, their needs are met,” she said. “When they’ve been here for therapy, they feel they’re getting what they need.”

South Shore Care Center now has a rehab transitional care unit (TCU) offering orthopedic care as well as wound and IV therapy. The TCU offers a homelike atmosphere with suites equipped with a small refrigerator, microwave and decor on the walls.

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“We’ve really been getting busier in that unit in the last few months,” Luong noted. “I’m not sure everyone in the community knows that in between the hospital and the home, we have that (care).”

The care centers do a lot of collaboration with health care providers in the area, and have partnered with three different companies to provide hospice care to residents within Crossroads and South Shore care centers.

With the loss of mental health beds in the community, Luong said they are also seeing a greater need for those services within the care centers. That aspect, as well as the rehabilitation offerings provided by the care centers, has impacted the typical age of residents.

“Nursing homes aren’t just (for people ages) 65 and older anymore,” Larson said. Their youngest resident was a 30-something-year-old who was taking rehab following a car crash.

Respite care is also a service now provided by the care centers, and Larson said the facilities can now accommodate couples as well.

With added services and an increased emphasis on teamwork between the sister facilities, Pridal said they continue to bring in highly qualified staff. Through the centers’ career pathway program, employees can receive tuition reimbursement to advance their health care career by earning Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification or studying for more advanced degrees.

“Minnesota West comes to our care centers to do clinicals for both the CNA and LPN (Licensed Practical Nursing) programs,” Luong said. “We’re very lucky to have Minnesota West in town here to do that.”

The care centers are also open to individuals who would like to job shadow.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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