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UHD buys Zitnak building

By Staff | Feb 6, 2009

It didn’t take long to fill a vacant spot on Main Street in Blue Earth.

Zitnak Pharmacy closed its doors on Feb. 1 and the building immediately went on the ‘For Sale’ market.

Now, it will be the new location for United Home Health and Hospice of Faribault County.

On Tuesday, the United Hospital District board voted to spend $49,000 to buy the building and another $60,000 to renovate it.

“Because they are a community-based business, the staff said they really would like to have a presence in the community,” UHD administrator Jeff Lang told the board.

Cande Arends, director of patient care services at UHD, says Home Health has about 60 clients and Hospice provides care to about 15.

Arends says the hospital district hired someone to inspect the building and found it to be in “very good” condition.

“The more we talked about it, the more they became excited about being in the community,” says Arends. “It’s a community health delivery, so it’s appropriate to have them on Main Street.”

Board chairman Dennis Zitnak says being located downtown would be beneficial and the building is handicapped accessible.

Zitnak, who rented the building for his business, says with 4,000 square feet additional services could be offered.

“It would be a good location for medical equipment rental. There is the space for it,” Zitnak says.

Not all boardmemberswere in favor of the idea.

Larry Anderson told UHD administrators he doesn’t like ‘surprises’ and wonders how much planning was actually done.

“After listening month after month that we have to have everything located on one site, you’ve got me convinced. This is happening all of a sudden and has to be done right away,” he says. “I’m a one-campus guy.”

Anderson says he’s against taking buildings off the tax rolls and UHD owning property outside their campus site.

Boardmembers Jane Poole and Jeannette Eichhorn supported the move because it would be a prime location and be more convenient for patients.

Kyle Chase, chief financial officer at UHD, outlined two options for the board:

• Renovate and rent the former pharmacy store and have operating costs of $33,000 a year, or;

• Buy the building and pay $21,000 annually in operating costs. Both alternatives require spending $60,000 for renovation.

Chase says the hospital’s $15 million expansion project included 1,320 square feet for United Home Health and Hospice and would cost between $330,000 and $517,000.

“This is one of those areas we can save money. There are some costs that have come up that were unforeseen,” Chase says of work done on design plans for the expansion.

United Home Health and Hospice currently is located at the former Blue Earth Medical Center, but must move to make way for United Hospital District — Clinics staff that will be leaving the Ag Center.