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Menahga nursing home looks to expand assisted living units to remain competitive in market

Greenwood Connections may be expanding its assisted living units and adding assisted living plus apartments to its facility.

But for now, the Menahga City Council and Greenwood Connections Board are still in the process of exploring options.

The two groups met last week to hear six proposals from a construction management firm and five architects who explained what an expansion project would mean for the city.

The discussion continued Monday night at the council's monthly meeting with questions councilwoman Kim Rasmussen asked.

"It seems to me that we forgot all of the sudden about the nursing home issue, and now we're on to something else and we're on to building," Rasmussen said.

She asked council members and Greenwood Connections administrator Clair Erickson about the direction the facility is moving in, now that proposals for expanding are on the table.

"Where have we jumped from having a problem with the nursing home to all of the sudden this is the direction we're moving in?" Rasmussen asked.

Getting those proposals from architects and the construction management firm was part of a request for information the two groups decided to get last November.

The need was apparent, there are more people who need assisted living and assisted living plus than nursing home beds, councilwoman Maxine Norman said.

"And that's what these presentations answered," she added, referring to the proposals.

The firms that presented information to the council and Greenwood Connections board were: JP Structures, a local construction management firm, Ringdahl Architects, Engan Associates, Nor-Son, Helenske Design Group and Pope Architects.

The firms presented different ideas with one similar goal: To find a solution for the facility that's losing residents to competing assisted living and assisted living plus facilities outside of town.

"The whole long-term care industry is going through a major change," Erickson told the council Monday. "A shift in what people want as they age."

Rasmussen still wondered about the nursing home's future.

"Where does that leave the nursing home equation?" Rasmussen asked.

The council and Greenwood Connections board apparently decided to leave the nursing home section of the issue alone and do some minor remodeling but not a major overhaul, Erickson said.

With the way things are moving, he doesn't think any building would start this year, Erickson added.

At the end of the discussion, the council decided to narrow down the proposals to three and see if expanding the facility would keep residents in town.

"Today, there are more assisted living apartments in the state of Minnesota than there are nursing home beds," Erickson said.

Greenwood Connections currently has 37 assisted living units and 65 nursing home beds.

Erickson said in an interview that architects would help figure out how many units would need to be added to the facility. He said 12 to 18 assisted living and about the same number of assisted living plus units may be added.

Another joint meeting between the Greenwood Connections board and the city council is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 7 at Woodside Manor to discuss three proposals and decide what steps to take next.

"We got to keep progressing, but I don't want to progress in the wrong way," Rasmussen said.