LETTER: Proposed county sale of nursing home – Park Rapids Enterprise

I feel that I should discuss with the people of Hubbard County what they are about to lose. In the last couple weeks, you have read about the financial problems with the nursing home and plan of our county board to sell it.

In all the years I was on the nursing home board, the Heritage Living Center was self-supporting. They had great employees who did a wonderful job taking care of Hubbard County residents. They went from having an old, out-of-date building to having two senior housing units, a memory care unit and a state-of-the-art nursing home.

Then along came COVID. All kinds of rules and regulations were imposed, and people were afraid to go to the nursing home. The employees were overworked and over-regulated. The result was that after a year, the surpluses were gone and the patient census was cut in half.

I understand the pressure on the county board to manage county finances. Unfortunately, this is uncharted territory. Are we going to just abandon all we have worked for?

We just gave our school system $50 million, and they graduated about 80 seniors this year. Many years ago, we graduated over 200 seniors. We still support our school because it’s needed in our community.

We have the best, most beautiful nursing home in the whole area and we are ready to toss it in. The campus that we built works together. The senior housing and the memory care keep the nursing home viable.

Nursing homes are so heavily regulated that it is difficult to show a profit. A company buying it now will know already that the other buildings are money makers and there is no real profit to be made in the nursing home. It probably wouldn’t take long before the nursing home was turned into a senior housing unit.

Think what it will mean if our county no longer has a nursing home. People will be driving 40 or 50 miles or more to visit their loved ones. We will lose 75 or more good jobs for our community and the county.

If Heritage were to get the proper assistance, I think it could be back on its feet in 12 to 18 months, and could probably be worth millions more. They are proposing to sell at the absolute worst time.

I believe there should be a referendum. I do not feel that five people alone should be making this decision. I urge everyone to think about it and contact your county commissioner.

Richard Devine is a past member of the Park Rapids School Board, the Hubbard County Board and the nursing home board.