Stay Safe MN

Since the pandemic first began, our staff have been working tirelessly to prevent transmission within our care centers and prepare for the day we provide care for those who test positive. As of today, we still have no known cases of Coronavirus in our care centers. We carefully monitor all residents for symptoms, screen all staff at the beginning of each shift, use PPE, and conduct audits of our infection control practices, providing further education as needed. 

It is expected the new Stay Safe directive from Governor Walz which involves steps to re-open Minnesota, as well as the President’s desire to open our communities, will increase the spread of COVID-19 in the weeks ahead. We remain committed to taking all precautionary measures to restrict this spread of the virus in our care centers. Because those we care for are at high-risk for COVID-19 infection, federal and state guidelines restrict us from relaxing rules for visiting and other group activities at this time. 

We, like you, are anxious for a time where visitors are warmly welcomed in our settings and warm smiles and human touch are not masked or guarded.  We know this is a difficult time for all concerned and that we continue to do all that we can to connect our residents and families in a safe way.

Additional updates and information on our preparedness for COVID-19 can be found on our website ( or Facebook page.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

5 Point Plan

Last week Governor Walz announced a 5 Point Plan to support residents and long-term care providers. He has addressed the need for more testing, personal protective equipment and adequate staffing in senior care settings. We are realistic about this challenge. As testing expands, more cases will be discovered. We will need to depend on this statewide collaboration to address the growing care needs. The 5 Point Plan includes:

  • Expanded testing for residents and staff.
  • Providing testing support.
  • Providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Ensure adequate staffing levels.
  • Leverage partnerships with local public health.

This week Governor Walz announced Minnesota will let the Stay at Home Order expire on May 18th, 2020. Minnesota will follow up with a Stay Safe MN Order. Following this order, we continue to social distance and remain closed to visitors to protect all who live and work within our communities.

As of today, there have been no known cases of Coronavirus in our care centers. We continue to follow all recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). This week residents and staff celebrated National Skilled Nursing Care Week. The usual dress up days, treats, and festivities were held despite the pandemic. Residents and staff have embraced the change and have created new norms in our communities.

As always, updates and information on our preparedness for COVID-19 can be found on our website ( or Facebook page. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

National Skilled Nursing Care Week

May 10th-16th, 2020

National Skilled Nursing Care Week has been held annually since 1967. It was created by the American Health Care Association to recognize the vital role care centers have in providing for our seniors. For years, care communities use this week to share the relationships that develop between staff and residents; the activities that are a part of each day and the memories made by all who live and work within its care communities. This event is an opportunity to display the advances in person-centered care and the achievements of the care centers. However, like most scheduled events this year, Skilled Nursing Care Week will be different. Friends and family will not be able to enter the buildings to join in the celebrations. Never the less, it is more important than ever to honor our residents and staff for the work they do within a skilled nursing care center. We urge everyone to join in virtually to support our residents and staff.

“Sharing Our Wisdom” is the 2020 theme for National Skilled Nursing Care Week. This theme intends to celebrate the residents and their staff by showing the unique insight our seniors have on life. This speaks volumes for what our world is currently enduring. Our seniors have a way of reminding us to be present, to cherish what we have and to not take things for granted.

As we start this week, we want to say thank you to all those involved in helping enrich the lives of our seniors. We appreciate all of our staff and volunteers for their incredible dedication and passion for their work. This year St Francis Health Services received the Award of Merit for Performance Excellence in Aging Services from LeadingAge Minnesota for our demonstrated commitment to quality and continuous improvement. We recognize that this would not have happened without the strength of our staff who continue to surpass any expectations we may have and bring joy to our residents every day.

We appreciate you and we thank you for every kind act that you show to those you work alongside to provide care for those entrusted to us!

-St. Francis Health Services

Award of Merit for Performance Excellence in Aging Services

St. Francis Health Services Recognized for Achievement in Quality Morris, MN – February 5th, 2020 – St. Francis Health Services received the Award of Merit for Performance Excellence in Aging Services from LeadingAge Minnesota for its demonstrated commitment to quality and continuous improvement. “Quality improvement in long-term services and supports is a continuous process, bettering our best each day to provide exceptional care and services to older adults,” said Gayle Kvenvold, President and CEO, LeadingAge Minnesota. “We congratulate St. Francis Health Services for their demonstrated commitment to quality in all that they do. By completing this intensive program, St. Francis Health Services and their dedicated employees are working together as a collaborative team to deliver higher quality care and services to the older adults they serve.” Performance Excellence in Aging Services was created by LeadingAge Minnesota in 2017 to help aging services providers innovate and improve the quality services and supports they provide to older adults. The continuous learning and development program is centered on the core values and criteria of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, which focuses on seven areas of achievement and improvement: leadership, strategy, customers, measurement, workforce, operations and results. To achieve the Award of Merit, St. Francis Health Services completed an in-depth organizational self-assessment to identify, prioritize and address improvement opportunities in their organization. By completing this initial phase of the Performance Excellence in Aging Services program, St. Francis Health Services has demonstrated that they have effective systems in place that will enable them to better serve older adults, empower staff teams, and achieve and sustain quality efforts more efficiently and effectively. Carol Raw, CEO/President states “As the newly appointed CEO/President of St. Francis Health Services, I sought confirmation from an external source that the systems we had in place were truly aligned with our strategic goals; that the services we provide are a reflection of the needs of the communities we serve and that our leadership staff are engaged in the creation of, and accountable for, the strategic plan outcomes. I also felt the messaging of our mission and core values had lost its strength as the main cultural component. While we had many quality initiatives in place, ironically we had no corporate level quality review to identify as a team the cause of our problems, or a method to create and implement action plans to resolve problems and achieve objectives. Each of these areas have now been addressed and we are beginning our first year of accountable strategic planning using annual objectives and action plans to measure our progress. The Performance Excellence program provided us with the tools to methodically assess our organization and collaboratively reach an understanding of who St. Francis Health Services is overall, but specifically in the areas of leadership, strategy, customers, measurement & analysis, workforce, operations and results. We are excited to continue down the path of assessment, but more so in working together as an executive and operational leadership team, to take meaningful strides forward in our continuous quality improvement.” For more information, contact Cami Peterson-DeVries, VICE PRESIDENT of Corporate Compliance & Ethics and Leadership Development at 320.589.4922 or About Organization St. Francis Health Services of Morris, Inc. (St. Francis) was created in 1984 as a not-for-profit organization committed to providing quality services to people of all ages with physical, mental and intellectual disabilities. Our service focus is the rural areas of MN with populations under 20k although we own and operate care centers in Duluth MN and a campus in Farmington MN. St. Francis was formed specifically to strategically expand services to meet the complex and diverse needs of vulnerable aging adults and people of all ages with physical, mental and intellectual disabilities. St. Francis’ corporate office provides operating support and oversight for 13 SNFs, 10 Assisted Living, 2 Independent Living and 74 Community Based Residential Group Homes throughout the state of Minnesota. St. Francis’ services include skilled nursing care (subacute, long-term, and memory care), assisted living with home healthcare and memory care, a full range of therapies, and community and residential services to people with physical, mental, and intellectual disabilities. St. Francis provides care to 838 residents within our SNFs, 342 tenants within our Assisted Living properties, and 309 persons who receive residential group home services in communities throughout MN. About LeadingAge Minnesota Driven to transform and enhance the experience of aging, LeadingAge Minnesota works alongside its members, caregivers, advocates and consumers to collectively shape the future of aging services and ensure older adults in every community live with dignity, meaning and purpose. Together with more than 60,000 caregivers, LeadingAge Minnesota members provide services and support to nearly 70,000 older adults every day in independent senior housing, assisted living, adult day, home care and skilled nursing settings.

SFHS Recognizes Retiring Governance Board Members

St. Francis Health Services of Morris recognizes our retiring Governance Board members who dedicated their valuable time and skills for the last 8 years.  Thank you Steve Lienemann and Neil Schmidgall for believing in our mission and offering invaluable leadership and support.  Steve continues to serve as a member of our sponsorship board

Cami Peterson-DeVries Promotion

I am excited to announce Cami Peterson-DeVries, DHA has accepted a new position within St. Francis Health Services as Vice-President of Corporate Compliance & Ethics and Leadership Development!

Most of you know that Cami has worked with St. Francis Health Services and our affiliates in various roles for the last 15 years.  Starting as the Director of Nursing at Guardian Angels Health and Rehabilitation Center in September of 2005, transferring to the Administrator/DON position at Renville Health Services in November 2012 and again to the Regional Director –South position in October of 2015.  Throughout this service, Cami has been fulfilling her education goal of acquiring her doctorate in Healthcare Administration.  Cami will begin her work in this new capacity effective 07/01/19 while continuing to assist with her current job duties of Regional Director until her replacement is hired.

In her new role, Cami will assume the role of Corporate Compliance & Ethics Director/Officer.  In addition, I am thrilled to announce that the St. Francis Board of Directors has unanimously agreed to depart on what I expect to be a 5 year leadership curriculum that will use the Baldridge Performance Excellence Framework.  Many of you will be learning more about this from Cami soon.  Very briefly, this continuous learning and development program focuses on seven core areas of achievement and improvement:

• Leadership: How management leads the organization and how the organization leads the community

• Strategy: How the organization establishes and plans to implement strategic directions

• Customers: How the organization builds and maintains strong, lasting relationships with customers

• Measurement: How the organization uses data to support key processes and manage performance

• Workforce: How the organization empowers and involves its workforce

• Operations: How the organization designs, manages and improves key processes

• Results: How the organization performs in terms of customer satisfaction, operational efficiencies, governance and social responsibility 

The program is based on a process of self-assessment and external evaluation focused on achieving success through goal setting.  Cami, in her new role of Leadership Development, will facilitate this work. 

Congratulations Cami; both on your educational successes and this new position with St. Francis! 

2019 Employee Recognition

St. Francis corporate employees enjoyed an afternoon of “digging in” to fill planters with spring flowers and later dinner and formal recognition for their service to our mission. Thanks all for attending the event but mostly for being part of a great team that accomplishes so much!

State Funding

Across Minnesota, dedicated caregivers in nursing homes and assisted living are working hard to provide safe, quality care and ensure our state’s seniors age well with the respect, care and support they deserve.

That is why it is so unfortunate to read about recent developments at the State Capitol. Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota House DFL are proposing funding cuts to nursing homes and creating funding disparities of up to 20 percent based solely on a zip code rather than the needs of our aging citizens and those who provide them with care.

A $68 million cut to nursing homes is a giant step backwards in what was once progressive reform to ensure access to safe, quality care for our rapidly-growing aging population and improve the wages and benefits of professional caregivers.    

In 2015, the Minnesota Legislature approved a new funding formula for nursing homes that based reimbursement on the actual cost of providing care. Because of this investment in senior care, St. Francis Health Services was able to increase nursing wages and benefits by 33 percent.  We were able to provide fully paid health insurance for our employees working over 30 hours per week.  We became more competitive amidst a shrinking labor pool in the communities in which we serve, improving our ability to recruit and retain staff as well as create pathways to help them advance in their careers. It also provided a sense of certainty and stability to the seniors we serve today and those who may one day require skilled nursing care.

The funding cuts proposed by Governor Walz and the Minnesota House DFL is the wrong direction for Minnesota. Our senior population is soaring as 60,000 people will turn 65 this year and every year through 2030. Over the next decade, Minnesota will need an additional 25,000 professional caregivers to help take care of them. Already, workforce shortages are restricting care for seniors. More than 4,000 seniors were turned away from nursing homes last year because they lacked the necessary staffing.

How do we properly care for our growing senior population when the state is cutting support to the places and the people who care for them? This is the time for Minnesota to support and invest in our aging population and the dedicated caregivers who help them age well and live life with purpose in the place they call home.

Kind Dining Training Begins as part of Nutrition and Optimal Weight (NOW) Grant Implementation

A Kind Dining training was held April 9-11, 2019 at Little Falls Health Services facilitated by Cindy Heilman, CEO of Higher Standards and Creator of Kind Dining.  Kind Dining is a meal service method based on hospitality and “bringing warmth to the table.”  This program will provide staff the knowledge and tools necessary to enhance the dining experience for residents by promoting person-centered care and nurturing a healthy sense of community and service.  The Kind Dining trainer at each care center will train staff in the concepts, practices, and standards of Kind Dining.  St. Francis Health Services is committed to improving the dining experience for our residents to reduce the number of residents experiencing unintended or unexplained weight loss. 

Front row: Jeremy Brew (Viewcrest Health Center-Duluth)
Middle row: Vicki Koschak (Guardian Angels Health & Rehab Center-Hibbing), Tina Janezich (Chisholm Health Center), Tracey Egan (Farmington Health Services), Christine Toupal (Renville Health Services), Renee Thompson (Zumbrota Health Services), Cindy Heilman (Kind Dining)
Back row: Joyce Schiele (West Wind Village-Morris), Karen Wilson (Pennington Health Services-Thief River Falls), Stephanie Fairchild (Koochiching Health Services-Littlefork), Pam Bellamy (Little Falls Health Services), CarrieAnn Jonas (Aitkin Health Services), Sheila Greseth (Browns Valley Health Center), Jessica Hondl (Franciscan Health Center-Duluth)
Marla Miller, Corporate Grant Coordinator, with Cindy Heilman, Kind Dining/Higher Standards