Local and county officials, veterans home committee members, and interested citizens met for an in-person meeting at the Preston Servicemen’s Club on June 21. Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Herke opened the meeting. The focus of this meeting was the need to find and contract with community suppliers for services.
Herke introduced a number of MDVA staff, including Deputy Commissioner of Healthcare Douglas Hughes.
Derek O’Connor, Knutson Construction, described the construction progress since the groundbreaking ceremony held on August 9, 2021. The facility should be weather tight by October. Interior work will be ongoing over the winter. Herke said it is a clean, safe site.
In 2018 the Minnesota legislature allocated $33 million for three state veterans home projects. The Preston facility will have 54 beds and received $10.2 million from the state, plus more than a million from local funding sources. The federal match was $22.53 million or 6%. Each resident will have his/her own room and bathroom, helping to maintain a homelike atmosphere.
A Minnesota veterans law approved and signed by the governor early this May provides $16.5 million more for the three veterans home projects. The Preston facility will receive about $6.9 million. The extra funding will pay for the main entrance road as originally proposed, the front canopy, a storage maintenance shed, porches, a transfer garage, ceiling lifts, and more. Many of these items had been cut from early plans to keep within budget.
Future contributions could allow for additional landscaping, loading dock cover, 40kW roof solar panel system, and other amenities.
Simone Hogan, senior director of healthcare at MDVA, maintained that veterans homes rely on donations for day-to-day activities, wi-fi and cable services, outdoor amenities, and personal items for residents. Donations are welcome at MinnesotaVeteran.org/Donate. Veterans homes also rely on hundreds of volunteer hours for groups, one on one support, outdoor and special event support. A volunteer coordinator will be hired in the spring of 2023.
Resident applications will be accepted beginning September 15, 2022, at 8 a.m. Applications will not be accepted prior to September 15. Applications will be available on the MDVA website. A full complete application package can be emailed or sent by U.S. Mail. Veterans will be given first preference. Incomplete packages will not be placed on the list; individuals will be notified so they can re-submit. To learn more about Minnesota Veterans Homes visit MinnesotaVeteran.org or email NewHomesAdmissions@state.mn.us to have your questions answered.
To fully staff the new veterans home, about 115 full-time and part-time employees will need to be recruited. The recruitment process will begin this fall. A home administrator will be the first position to be filled. Due to the current workforce challenges, a variety of recruitment sources will be implemented including social media and career fairs, collaboration with workforce development, and meeting with people in the community promoting career opportunities. MDVA provides competitive compensation and benefit packages. The majority of the positions will be skilled nursing. However, a wide range of workers will be needed including, but not limited to, jobs in food services, maintenance, social work, skilled trades, accounting, finance, and human resources. Questions can be emailed to NewHomesJobs@state.mn.us
Kristen Root, MDVA, wants to partner with local vendors to provide necessary core services for the veterans home. She wants to find businesses in the area and surrounding communities. The needed services for residents include audiology, podiatry, optometry, dental, dialysis, barber, entertainment, hospice, mental health, physical therapy, occupational therapy, radiology, rehab, and speech therapy.
Facility services will be necessary including potable water, ambulance, electrical, equipment repair, laundry, pharmaceuticals, chaplaincy, laboratory services, pre-employment testing, and supplemental staffing (nursing or dietary). If you have questions about the services needed, email Kristen Root at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dale Klitzke at email@example.com
The next stakeholders meeting will be virtual and focus on resident admissions to be held in September. The next in-person meeting will likely be in January and will focus on staffing/hiring. The home administrator will be introduced at that meeting.