By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Plan Commission has recommended that the Colfax Village Board approve the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center’s proposal for the Minneblom Assisted Living & Memory Care facility at the old nursing home.
“We’ve been working on the concept for a while, but funding has been an issue,” said Jill Gengler, CHRC administrator, at the Colfax Plan Commission’s June 21 meeting.
Minneblom — pronounced “minnie bloom” — is the Norwegian word for “forget-me-not,” a small blue or white flower with a yellow center.
Now that CHRC will be losing revenue from the Mayo Clinic moving out of the old nursing home building, lenders are more interested in talking about a plan for another source of revenue for Colfax Health and Rehab, Gengler said.
The assisted living units at CHRC are not able to accommodate people with memory issues and a dedicated unit is needed for taking care of people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Gengler said.
The assisted living units at CHRC are set up for the frail elderly and not for those with memory problems, she noted.
The Alzheimer’s/dementia unit at the old nursing home also was called Minneblom.
“We did it well, and we can do it well again,” Gengler said.
In the time since CHRC moved to the new facility on Park Drive, Gengler said the nursing home receives at least one call per month from someone looking for a memory care unit.
The new Minneblom facility will be set up with 18 beds, and the rooms can either be private or semi-private.
Semi-private rooms would work well for a couple or for siblings, Gengler said.
“It will be good for the community and good for the building,” she said.
With a facility located right next door, it might also be attractive for a new medical clinic to move into the space currently occupied by Mayo Clinic, Gengler noted.
Mayo Clinic in Colfax will be closed as of July 1.
Scott Gunnufson, chair of the plan commission, wondered about the timeline for Minneblom.
In addition to securing funding for the project, the state also must approve the plans, Gengler said.
The building code requirements are less for assisted living than for skilled nursing, and the process to make the facility ready for residents will include new furniture, painting, some mechanical work and removing a wall or two, she said.
After funding and state approval have been received, the facility should be ready for occupancy within 30 to 60 days, Gengler said.
“We hope to have it finished by the end of the year and would like to open on January 1, 2017,” she said.
Dave Hovre, plan commission member, asked if the new Minneblom would only be for memory care residents.
“Yes. It is hard to mix populations,” Gengler said.
The new Minneblom will be focused on memory care at all levels. Residents appropriate for Minneblom are typically people who need supervision but not a lot of medical services, she explained.
Some of the staff who worked at the “old” Minneblom are still employed by CHRC and are willing to work at the new Minneblom, she said.
“It takes specially trained staff to keep people supervised and happy,” Gengler said.
Jason Johnson, plan commission member, wondered what Minneblom could increase to if the facility starts out with 18 beds.
“We could double it using another part of the building,” Gengler said.
Gengler said she suspected the Minneblom unit would have an average of 12 residents.
Hovre wondered if 12 residents would be enough to keep the facility going financially.
Gengler said they had run the numbers, and ten residents would bring a positive cash flow.
CHRC is already paying the utility bills for the old nursing home, so eight residents would keep the assisted living and memory care facility breaking even, Gengler said.
The previous Minneblom was a 16-bed unit, she said.
A memory care unit is expected to draw in residents from beyond the Colfax area, and if someone comes to Colfax for the memory care unit and needs skilled nursing later on, that person may stay in the system and transfer to CHRC, Gengler said.
Hovre said he has been concerned about what would become of the old nursing home building.
“This would be an excellent thing,” he said.
Hovre made a motion to support the CHRC proposal for a Minneblom Assisted Living & Memory Care “100 percent.” The motion was seconded by Mike Buchner, plan commission member.
The Colfax Plan Commission unanimously approved the motion and forwarded the recommendation to the Colfax Village Board for consideration.
The Minneblom Assisted Living & Memory Care facility is expected to create 12 full-time positions.