News & Events

Primary Election Day in MN

Tomorrow is Primary Election Day in Minnesota. A primary election determines which candidates will be on the ballot in November for the General Election. This August, voters will see partisan offices, like House, Senate or Governor, up for election and non-partisan offices, like county commissioner and municipal office races.

St. Francis Health Services encourages all Minnesotans, including those living and serving in long-term care settings, to exercise their right to vote. Democracy is stronger when we all engage. With one million seniors in Minnesota, now is the time to ensure that their needs are represented by policymakers in St. Paul and Washington, DC.

In Minnesota, you may register at least 21 days before Election Day, or you may register on Primary Day/Election Day at your polling place. Check out or download this factsheet on what you will need to register at a polling place on Tuesday. Note that for residents of long-term care settings, a staff person is permitted to go with residents to a precinct polling location to confirm a resident’s address. Learn more about helping residents exercise their right to vote here.

Rep. Michelle Fischbach Visits Professional Caregivers at Renville Health Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE           

July 7th, 2022                        

RENVILLE, MN (July 7th, 2022) – Workforce challenges, caregiver wages, and access to care for older adults were the top concerns shared by Renville Health Services staff during a recent legislative visit with Rep. Michelle Fischbach.

“There are currently 23,000 open caregiver positions across Minnesota. Professional caregivers and the seniors they serve are counting on support from our elected officials to help ensure access to care as the state’s senior population grows,” said Casie Knoshal, the Administrator at Renville Health Services. “We are thankful Congresswoman Fischbach visited our community and to hear directly from our staff about the challenges we face in the aging services sector.”

“The safety of our residents is our top priority. We want to care for everyone who comes to our door, but we have to turn people away when we don’t have enough caregivers to provide safe, quality care,” said Christine Bakke, Regional Director at SFHS. “We need support from lawmakers – at all levels of government – to make caregiving jobs as competitive as possible so we can recruit and retain caregivers needed to care for our older adults in all communities.”

“The staff at Renville Health Services work so hard and many of them work double shifts. We see a lot of people who want to keep working here but have to leave to better support their families,” said Casie Knoshal, RHS Administrator. “Wages that better reflect the quality care we provide are essential, and we appreciate support from lawmakers like Rep. Fischbach who want to know more about what we do and how we serve our community.”

Renville Health Services serves older adults in Renville and surrounding communities at Renville Health Services. They are a subsidiary of St. Francis Health Services of Morris. SFHS, and each of the subsidiaries, are faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare organizations.  In addition to the skilled nursing care centers, they offer a variety of services that include customized/assisted living, therapies, senior housing, transitional and skilled nursing care, and behavioral and residential programs throughout the state of Minnesota.

Photo Caption: Casie Knoshal (Administrator), Cynthia Turrubiartes (NAR), McKayla Wohnoutka (NAR), Rep. Michelle Fischbach (MN-7), Christine Bakke (SFHS Regional Director), Cami Peterson-Devries (VP of Senior Services at SFHS).

FHS Ranked 2nd out of 350 LTC Providers in MN!

According to the MN Department of Human Services & Health Report Card, Trinity Care Center has been ranked #2 out of 350 Care Centers in the State of MN for highly satisfied residents and families! We want to take a moment to sincerely thank you for helping us to achieve such success, but more importantly that we are working as a team to bring happiness and health to our residents. Here’s to many more years of helping the elderly of MN find care and love that they deserve. Thank you again!!

Farmington Health Services is a subsidiary location of SFHS. Trinity is comprised of *Skilled Care Center*10 Bed Memory Care*54 Unit Independent and Assisted living*Outpatient Therapy Services.

Southeast Minnesota long-term senior care facilities struggle through financial crisis, staffing shortages

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the money struggles already facing care centers. Now, advocates are asking for help from the state to retain workers and keep their facilities open.
Zumbrota Care Center
Jessica Lomeli, front, a certified nursing assistant at the Zumbrota Care Center, and Brianna Ryan, a basic care aid, work with residents on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Zumbrota.

ZUMBROTA, Minn. — The Zumbrota Health Services building is noticeably less full than it once was. Rooms down one hallway are mostly unoccupied. Residents sit in the common areas, but it just feels empty.

About four years ago, the senior care center was a 50-bed facility. Now, there’s a 40-bed capacity, but only 32 beds are full.

But the emptiness isn’t just because of a lack of residents. It’s noticeable that the staff is fairly small. And this isn’t exclusive to the Zumbrota facility: There are 23,000 open positions for caregivers across the state.

Zumbrota Care Center
A “now hiring” sign out front of the Zumbrota Care Center on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Zumbrota.

The staffing shortage is one domino that fell as a byproduct of the biggest struggle long-term care facilities are facing right now: the financial crisis.

Leaders in the long-term senior care industry are heavily advocating the Minnesota Legislature before the session ends on Monday, May 23, 2022, to use part of the budget surplus to ease the financial burden facing so many facilities.

It’s important to note that the financial crisis within the industry wasn’t created by the pandemic, but the associated costs with protective gear and operating COVID-19 units suddenly pushed onto facilities exacerbated the struggle. The crisis even caused five nursing homes to close in the first five months of 2022. Twelve facilities have closed since 2020.

Prior to the pandemic, nursing homes in particular were functioning under tight margins. And, according to Kari Thurlow, the president and CEO of LeadingAge Minnesota, the reimbursement rates set by the state legislature were a big reason for the financial crisis.

Nursing homes are reimbursed for residents through a daily rate set by lawmakers. In Minnesota, the Medicaid rate and private pay rate have to be the same, according to state law. Facilities submit a cost report with their total operating costs to be reimbursed.

The issue is that the expenses are not reimbursed until 27 months after the cost reports are submitted, so nursing homes right now are paid based on 2020 cost reports.

“Most of those costs are before the pandemic got really bad,” Thurlow said. “If you think about all that we’ve been through since, like the huge inflationary increases, the added cost of testing and vaccines and all of those things, none of that has been covered in cost reimbursements.”

Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care centers are operating on incredibly slim margins because the costs they face are far more than the reimbursements they are currently receiving from the state.

The lack of money is the reason there’s also a staffing shortage across Minnesota. Thurlow and other long-term caregivers are advocating for a reimbursement rate increase not to ease the operating cost for facilities, but to increase the wages of caregivers in order to retain current workers and attract new ones.

“One of the biggest challenges we have, and you see this all over the state, is that because of inflation and wage inflation, we’re losing caregivers because we can’t keep up with wages. And when we lose caregivers, we can’t admit more residents. And it creates a financial issue,” Thurlow said. “So our theory is by immediately investing in base wages this session, we’re able to recruit caregivers and increase occupancy in our settings to help with the financial crisis.”

It would be helpful to facility leaders like Sue Knutson, who is operating Samaritan Bethany in Rochester with about 200 staff members, down from the 440 she had five years ago. Operating with half the staff means they’re “just not having people move in.”

“It’s difficult because we don’t normally say no,” she said.

Cami Peterson-DeVries, the vice president of senior services at St. Francis Health Services, the parent organization over Zumbrota Health Services, said because of the staffing crunch, the Zumbrota care center has been “very selective in who comes in because we want to make sure that we have enough staff to prepare and take care of them.”

Zumbrota Care Center
Dr. Cami Peterson-DeVries, the vice president of senior services with St. Francis Health Service of Morris, is pictured at the Zumbrota Care Center on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Zumbrota.

“It really is a sadness in the sense that we’re not able to take care of all the people we’d like,” she said.

Some care centers have navigated the staffing shortages without closing and without compromising care for residents who need the facilities they’re in. But funding is desperately needed for many facilities to continue operating.

“We do need finance. We do need funding,” Peterson-DeVries said. “We as an organization have been working together to say, ‘Okay, how do we tighten our belts? What do we do?’ But there are certain things you can’t compromise on. You can’t compromise on resident care. You just can’t.”

Congratulations on 40 years with SFHS

On Friday, April 1st, St. Francis Health Services of Morris celebrated Carol Raw, CEO/President, for 40 years and counting of service to SFHS.

When asked about her years of service to SFHS, Carol had this to say.

“I’ve told many today that it is unfathomable that I have reached 40 years in my work with St. Francis.  I am honored to have been entrusted to this position and know that it is intentional believing we are all put on this great earth for a specific purpose.  My heart tells me I have more to give, and so I will.”

JENELLE CONNORS NAMED DISTRICT CAREGIVER OF THE YEAR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                        CONTACT: Libbie Chapuran

February 18, 2022                                                                                                                                       lchapuran@leadingagemn.org

Saint Paul – (2/28/2022) – Jenelle Connors, a nurse manager at Guardian Angels Health and Rehabilitative Center in Hibbing, MN, was recently honored by LeadingAge Minnesota with the District B Caregiver of the Year Award.

The District Caregiver of the Year Award honors individuals in older adult services who demonstrate exceptional commitment to older adults, and enhance and enrich the quality of life of those in their care. Jenelle was one of seven caregivers selected for the regional award out of a field of 50,000 professional caregivers throughout the state.

“Jenelle always goes above and beyond to help the residents to ensure they are safe and obtain the highest level of care,” said Shane Roche, Administrator at Guardian Angels Health and Rehabilitative Center. “During our most challenging times, Jenelle has stepped up with courage, strength, and dedication to provide direct care to our most vulnerable battling Covid-19 in our care center.”

LeadingAge Minnesota honored Jenelle and other Caregivers of the Year at its Institute & Expo, the state’s largest and most comprehensive aging services conference. Nearly 4,000 professionals in all aspects of older adult services attend the annual three-day event to learn about new and innovative programs, share best practices and network with their peers.

About LeadingAge Minnesota

LeadingAge Minnesota is driven to transform and enhance the experience of aging. Together with more than 60,000 caregivers, our members provide quality, compassionate care to nearly 70,000 older adults every day in all the places they call home including independent senior housing, assisted living communities, in-home care and skilled nursing facilities.

National Caregivers Day

Today we honor all individuals who selflessly provide care, including both medical and personal care. Whether the caregiver is a healthcare professional or a family member, a caregiver’s day can be long and demanding, requiring dedication and compassion.

Caregiving can tax your patience and foster fatigue, frustration and guilt, becoming a grueling grind that takes a heavy toll on the caregiver’s body and mind. Thirty-six percent of family caregivers characterize their situation as highly stressful, according to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC).COVID has exasperated caregiver burnout making it even more important to watch for the signs and take proactive steps to deal with it before it spirals out of control.

Lack of energy
Overwhelming fatigue
Sleep problems (too much or too little)
Changes in eating habits; weight loss or gain
A feeling of hopelessness
Withdrawing from, or losing interest in, activities you once enjoyed
Neglecting your own physical and emotional needs
Feeling like caregiving is controlling your life
Becoming unusually impatient, irritable or argumentative with the person you’re caring for and/or with others
Anxiety about the future
Depression or mood swings
Difficulty coping with everyday things
Headaches, stomachaches, and other physical problems
Lowered resistance to illness

Another tool to evaluate whether tending to a loved one is taking a toll is a caregiver self-assessment questionnaire that the American Medical Association developed and the American Psychological Association recommends.

If you or a caregiver you know is experiencing burnout ask for help. Take breaks when you need it and take care of yourself. Join a support group or communicate with others who are in your situation.  

Minnesota’s professional caregiver shortage has reached historic levels.

Without continued action from #mnleg and Governor Tim Walz, seniors will continue to lose access to the services they need

There are currently 23,000 job openings at senior living organizations throughout Minnesota. That’s about 20% of that industry.

‘There’s No One Here To Help Us’: Staff Shortages Devastating Senior Living Facility Residents – WCCO | CBS Minnesota (cbslocal.com)