If and when the Granite Falls Hospital completes construction of a new nursing home, it is expected that it will closely resemble the accompanying renderings by Tremain Architects & Planners, of Minneapolis.
"There might be some small changes, but what we submit in terms of square-footage, amenities and those kind of things––that's what the state expects to see, they don't expect us to be scaling it back once our moratorium exception is received," said hospital Administrator and CEO George Gerlach.
Last Monday, the Granite Falls Hospital submitted its moratorium exception application to the state and will continue moving forward with preliminary construction matters until the state releases its lists of approved requests by March 25.
The amount that a nursing home is able to charge and receive from nursing home residents is dictated by the state. But the present moratorium exception process allows for nursing homes undertaking construction projects in excess of approximately $1.425 million to seek higher reimbursements from the state for services.
According to Gerlach, the hospital will have to reevaluate whether or not it chooses to pursue new nursing home construction if Granite Falls Hospital's application is not one of 25 competitive requests that are chosen. As a positive sign, Tremain Architect owner Dale Tremain noted that the Granite Falls nursing home project meets all of the moratorium exception criteria and placed the hospital's chances of being selected by the state at "better than 50/50."
More space, privacy
A 2010 study commissioned by the Granite Falls EDA reported that a summary of focus groups responded positively to the care offered presently at Granite Manor, but negatively of the physical structure itself. The biggest issue cited was that of a lack of personal living and bathroom space.
With the original structure dating back to 1948, such responses hardly came as surprise. In fact, the hospital board has recognized the need for a new nursing home for well over a decade.
In 2011 the hospital completed its most recent Master Facilities Plan, which again reiterated the nursing home is obsolete in terms of layout and functionality, and recommended that an off-site campus be built in its stead. As a matter of preference Gerlach said the hospital board would liked to have built a nursing home in its present location, but that the hospital did not have the adequate space required to suit a modern, more cost efficient, single-floor layout.
The present nursing home plans go to great lengths to address desires for more space and privacy while also featuring an array of additional upgrades amenities that would allow nursing home staff to cater to needs of most any type of patient.
"What I think the hospital board wants is to see us build a facility that will meet the needs of current residents as well as residents of the future," said Gerlach. "What we're trying to have is versatility––whether we're talking resident rooms, or [nursing home staff] space––that can be used for multiple things where we are not restricted by our physical plant."
Page 2 of 2 - "It would be a beautiful place and it's something Granite Falls needs," commented Tremain. "If you saw nursing homes throughout the state you would really appreciate just how dated the [Granite Falls Manor's] physical plant is."
The Monday before last, the Granite Falls City Council approved a purchase agreement for 41.7 acres of property, at a cost of $2,000 per acre, or $83,400 in sum, within the city's Industrial Park. The land is expected to serve as not only the site of the new 48,368 square foot nursing home, but also that of the future hospital, which is likely still a few decades away from being replaced.
Gerlach said that the hospital would move foward with the purchase agreement if all goes as planned when the moratorium exception decision comes due.
Should March 25 roll around and the hospital receive good news, Gerlach said the next steps will be to secure financing through the city's bonding mechanism and then to begin fundraising amongst the area community. At present, the cost of the new nursing home is an estimated $10.7 million,
"We have residents of our community who are leaving our community to obtain nursing home care elsewhere from facilities who have remodeled," said Gerlach. "Once the new nursing home is completed we'll be state of the art, and I think people will enjoy staying."