Community Memorial Hospital to reduce size of Sunnyside Health Care CenterIn an announcement to staff two weeks ago, Community Memorial Hospital administrators relayed their intent to reduce the number of beds in the adjacent Sunnyside Health Care Center by half “to better reflect the health care needs of the community,” according to Administrator/CEO Rick Breuer.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
There are big changes in store for Sunnyside Health Care Center in Cloquet. In an announcement to staff two weeks ago, Community Memorial Hospital administrators relayed their intent to reduce the number of beds in the adjacent Sunnyside Health Care Center by half “to better reflect the health care needs of the community,” according to Administrator/CEO Rick Breuer.
Breuer went on to explain that while the senior population of Carlton County continues to grow with the advent of the Baby Boomer population, so too do the number of senior housing options. Home health care, independent living apartments and assisted living facilities have kept more and more seniors with lower health care requirements out of nursing homes for longer periods of time. In the case of Sunnyside Health Care Center, Breuer said, that means resident populations have begun to decrease. At the time the announcement was made, the 88-bed facility had a resident population of only 60.
“We’ve found over time that the facility is being underutilized,” Breuer said. “That’s a reflection of what’s been happening generally in the field of long-term care with the larger variety of options that are now open to older people. That represents a change in where we’re the most effective and where we can best meet the health care needs of the community.”
Breuer said while the plan is still in the formative stages, it will involve consolidating the resident population of Sunnyside Health Care Center to the second floor of its current two-story facility and expanding the hospital’s physical, occupational and speech therapy departments into the first floor. Breuer stressed that no current residents of the Health Care Center will be forced to move elsewhere and the facility will simply cease to take on new residents until the numbers are reduced to 44.
He admitted that while the consolidation of the nursing home will mean reduced needs for staffing, he emphasized that no decisions have yet been made at any level regarding how many employees will be affected and to what extent.
“Right now,” he said, “we still have more questions than answers.”
Breuer acknowledged that while making the announcement ahead of time may have created some anxiety among current employees, he and the board felt it made sense to be honest with them and let them know what was going to be happening.
He stated that work continues on finalizing the details as soon as possible and added the plan is that sometime within the next two weeks they will know more about which employees will be affected by the consolidation, to what degree and what the time frame will be.
“We know some lasting changes will come as a result of this move,” he said, “and we want to give people a chance to look at their options.”