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Zumbrota Care Center begins expansion next month

Zumbrota Health Services is moving forward with plans for a $5.5 million renovation and expansion project at its Zumbrota Care Center.

ZHS recently got approval from the Minnesota Department of Health to go ahead with construction, which includes adding a 14,500-square-foot, two-level wing to the existing center.

"We need an upgrade," ZHS administrator Shannon Donahue said. "We want to stay up to date and make us the nursing home of choice in the area."

The expansion will add 16 rooms, many of which will house single occupants — something younger residents are requesting more frequently, Donahue said.

The main level also will include a bariatric suite, two dining areas, a family dining and conference area, a bathing suite and a serving kitchen. The lower level will house a 2,400-square-foot therapy department, as well as a kitchen, pantry and storage area.

But more than just adding space to the facility, the decor of the expansion has been designed to promote a neighborhood theme, Donahue said. It is part of an ongoing effort started in the mid-2000s to make the center more comfortable for residents.

Each room will feature an individualized house front resembling a country homestead, and will be situated around a central atrium park.

"It makes (residents) feel more at home, and less like they're in a sterile institution," Donahue said.

Additionally, underneath the cozy facade will be a number of technology upgrades designed to help nurses provide care more efficiently.

The rooms will be equipped with a wireless call system that alerts beepers carried by staff to let them know a resident needs assistance. The system then stores response time data to help assess and improve the quality of care in the future.

Getting rid of the constant buzzing of call bells also helps make the center feel less institutional, Donahue said.

ZHS is a faith-based, non-profit subsidiary of St. Francis Health Services, a Morris, Minn., care provider specializing in housing and support services for seniors and people with disabilities and mental illness.

The Zumbrota Care Center expansion is part of a plan to meet the needs of the growing long-term care population in Goodhue County, according to a ZHS statement.

The center currently houses 42 residents, divided between short- and long-term nursing care. The 24-hour staff offers services ranging from post-surgery rehabilitation to assisted living for seniors in the attached Bridges of Zumbrota facility.

The center also provides therapy and social services on an outpatient basis.

Donahue said there will be minimal impacts once construction begins, but a few residents may need to be temporarily relocated to another room.

"It won't be too intrusive," she said. "Staff have worked out a plan to keep things running smoothly."

The center will continue to accept new admissions during construction.

"We're all very excited," Donahue said. "Obviously there's going to be a lot of moving around and shuffling, but it will be nice to move in."

Construction on the project is slated to begin next month, with a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 11. The expansion is expected to be completed by fall 2014.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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