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Granite Falls to build nursing home

GRANITE FALLS — A traditional groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for a new 48-bed skilled nursing facility in Granite Falls, but don’t let the standard-issue hard hats and gold-colored shovels confuse.

The plans are to build anything but a traditional nursing home.

The new facility to be constructed on the eastern edge of Granite Falls will replace the 57-bed Manor nursing home originally built more than 40 years ago.

The Manor is a traditional nursing home, designed according to a medical model of care.

Two separate master plans completed for the Granite Falls Municipal Hospital and Manor over the last 10 years labeled it an “obsolete’’ facility largely for that reason, according to George Gerlach, hospital and nursing home administrator.

The new facility will provide residents with far more privacy and an environment focused on a sense of community. There were will be four joined households. Each “household’’ will include the rooms for 12 residents. Each household will offer its own central dining and living room area for the 12 residents.

All four households will be joined, and the overall building design includes lots of windows and a patio and walking area that will make the outdoors readily accessible for residents.

“It’s about building connections to people and to community. It’s not about building a building,’’ project architect Dale Tremain said following the ceremony. He is with Tremain Architects and Planning, of St. Paul.

He said the residents will also enjoy an advantage that only a small community can offer: The people who staff the skilled nursing facilities in small towns have connections to the residents — they once knew them as teachers or neighbors down the street –– and that is reflected in the care, he said.

The Granite Falls Municipal Hospital and Manor awarded an $8.4 million bid package to Kraus-Anderson Construction to build the 48,000-square-foot facility on the eastern edge of Granite Falls. It’s part of a more than

$10 million project that also includes developing a new street and utilities to the site on East Jordan Drive.

Work will begin as soon as final approval is received from the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, which is providing a low-interest, 40-year financing package.

The project is expected to take about one year to complete, according to Tracy Pogue, director of business development for Kraus-Anderson. He expects upward of 200 construction workers to be at the site through the course of the year, many of them subcontractors from the local area.

Gerlach said the project continues a vision of caring for people that dates to the founders of the Granite Falls Hospital.

He also noted that this project faced many challenges, beginning with a state moratorium on the construction of new nursing home beds. State Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, said the late Gary Kubly played a big role. Kubly was the state senator from Granite Falls, and a former hospital board member, and he helped make possible the exemption to the moratorium that allowed this project to go forward. “He was really the person who was a driving force for this,’’ said Falk of Kubly.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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