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Progress at Heartland

By Staff | Jun 9, 2019

Construction work continues at Parker Oaks in Winnebago. The new building is scheduled to be open by Nov. 1.

Senior citizens will soon have more housing opportunities in Faribault County.

Heartland Senior Living, a community based not for profit, has new construction underway in both Wells and Winnebago. The construction began in the fall of 2018 and the new facilities in both cities are scheduled to open by November of this year.

“We are fortunate we got started on construction when we did, we got a good start before the weather got bad later in January,” Chris Knoll, executive manager with Heartland, says.

There is still dirt work to be done but the majority of the construction work is all inside now, Knoll adds.

Heartland already owns Parkview Care Center in Wells, which is a skilled nursing facility and is located in the southeast part of town. The site for the new building is found in the northwest part of the city. It is a 20 unit assisted living and memory care building. It will provide 10 assisted living apartments and 10 memory care suites, according to Knoll.

The memory care suites are studio apartments and are a secured unit, while the assisted living apartment are one-bedroom units. Some of the layouts also include a den, Knoll explains. There is also a community dining room and a commons area in the building.

While the expansion in Wells is on a completely new plot of land, the new building in Winnebago is an expansion of the existing Parker Oaks complex.

The new construction is located on the east side of the current Parker Oaks facility and connects to the established edifice near the old entrance on the southeast corner of the building.

“One of the things being done in the expansion is moving the dining room to where the old building meets the new building,” Bill Erickson, president of the Heartland Senior Living board, says. “The dining room will be large and have a nice southern exposure.”

There will also be a new lounge located next to the dining area. It will feature a screened in porch for residents and their visitors to enjoy, Knoll says.

The remainder of the new construction at Parker Oaks is made up of 12 assisted living units. Ten of the units are of a one-bedroom design which also have a den, kitchen/dining room, a living room and a bathroom in addition to the bedroom. The showers in the bathroom feature a no-lip entrance design so wheel chairs can easily be moved into the shower stall by the residents or nurses, Knoll explains.

Two of the units are configured to have two bedrooms. This is accomplished by eliminating the den in those units.

Operation of these facilities will require hiring some new employees. Knoll states 10-20 new people could be hired in Wells, equaling anywhere from 7-14 full-time equivalent employees, (FTE). Parker Oaks will need 6-10 new employees at about three FTE.

“With the labor market as it is, we have to be very flexible and willing to structure the worker’s schedule around the individual,” Knoll comments.

Knoll cited an example as to how the flexibility might work where an employee may want to work for a few hours in the morning and then come back in the late afternoon to work another short shift.

Each site will have their own administrator. Kacey Kasel is the current executive director and director of health services at Parker Oaks and will continue in the same capacity upon completion of the addition.

“We currently have 25 of our 28 existing units full and the list of people wishing to move into the new facility is currently at four and growing,” Kasel says.

Kasel has been at her current job since September and is looking forward to the completion of the building project.

“I am excited for the changes coming to Parker Oaks,” Kasel comments. “I think it will be a great addition for Winnebago and the surrounding area.”

The people comprising the Heartland Senior Living board have very diverse backgrounds, including individuals involved in banking, the health care industry, a mortician, a dietary manager, a realtor, and a hospice chaplain, to name a few.

Erickson believes it is this diversity which helps Heartland be successful.

“We are not building this for tomorrow, we are building this for the next 20 years,”Knoll says. “We believe assisted living will continue to be a more affordable option and thus it will grow.”

The total cost of the construction at both sites is $7.5 million. And, although there is still work to be done before the scheduled Nov. 1 occupancy target, both facilities are currently accepting reservations. The rates for the new facilities will be set in July during the regular Heartland Senior Living board meeting.

People having an interest in the Wells site can contact Murray Finger, the administrator at Parkview Care Center, at 507-553-3115.

Those having an interest in Parker Oaks should contact Kasel at 507-893-3171.