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Goering will lead new Benedictine project

Jake Goering, the CEO of the newly expanded Benedictine Health System in Red Wing, stands with his administrators of the two current nursing homes: Mary Jo Hill of Seminary Home and Mike Schultz of St. Brigid's at Hi-Park.

Jake Goering is a CEO without a building. He's not only OK with that, he's thrilled. The ability to create something new -- including the facility to house it -- is part of what attracted him to his new job.

Goering leads the newly merged Seminary Home and St. Brigid's at Hi-Park. Both Red Wing nursing homes will continue to operate until a new, integrated cutting-edge care center run by Benedictine Health System opens in late 2014.

This is much more than a merger: The new facility will be connected to the local medical center. And beyond that physical connection, Goering noted, will be a new model for senior care at the same time Mayo Clinic Health Services takes over the local hospital, clinics, home health care and other services.

"Red Wing is on the forefront of what is happening nationally," he said. "A lot of communities are going to be trying to do the same thing. In this case, you have two of the premiere organizations heading it up, and I'm delighted to be a part of it."

Acute care and long-term care providers will work hand in hand in the new facility, he said, "with a vision for a future operation that will encompass the full continuum of care."

Chris Boldt, Benedictine Health System's vice president of operations, agrees. The Red Wing resident works with nursing homes across the state, but she admits a special passion for this project in her home town.

"It's not just about a building, it's about relationships, it's about taking some risks, it's about doing something together," Boldt said.

The Benedictine Health System acquired Seminary Home's operations and license effective July 1. Bringing the two staffs together as a team prior to their physical joining is one of Goering's primary tasks in the next six months.

"That we are both faith-based, I believe, helps," he said.

The process began Monday and Tuesday during unity services in their respective chapels.

"On this journey we will cross over from a traditional, segmented, medical-model long-term care to a new and seamless household model, with all the accoutrements of home, yet neatly aligned with our local acute care provider Mayo Health System," Goering told staff. "You are part of a new history, bringing to the community of Red Wing and its aging people the very best quality and compassionate care this day has to offer."

The housing transition includes a personal one as Goering and wife Nancy move from their home near Grand Rapids, Minn., and send their son, Josiah, off to college. Daughter Brittany has started her career in health care in Fargo, N.D.

Goering and his administrative team led by Mary Jo Hill of Seminary Home and Mike Schultz of St. Brigid's at Hi-Park will waste no time on another item on the six-month priority list: designing the organization's new physical home.

"We expect to have the location fixed with the name of the facility by August," Goering said. The team then will finalize architectural drawings and break ground.

The ultimate goal isn't the building, it is what it can help bring: the highest quality care at a reasonable cost. Goering said that means a system that goes beyond the connected home, hospital and clinic to serving those seniors still living at home. Innovative connections through Skype and monitoring systems are just two examples that will connect them to providers.

"We will shape this organization to make it as fast, flexible and dynamic as it needs to be," Goering said, then summed it up simply. "We are a wonderful new care community."

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

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