The community of Caledonia reeled in disbelief after the Pine View Rehabilitation and Senior Living closed at the end of last year. The town was left with unanswered questions, residents without a home, and employees without jobs.
Founder/CEO Nathan Hertzel, of the nursing home management company Nava Healthcare, was quoted on January 16, 2023, as saying that the facility was evacuated last fall and not shut down, adding that his company “took the appropriate steps with the state of Minnesota to go through the process.”
In a phone interview, Hertzel explained, “Closure implies that you submit an entire notification to various entities and organizations; whereas evaluation is saying that we need to get these residents out for their best interest, their safety and health, and well-being.”
Hertzel said that they “received very little help from the county or the state.”
After the evacuation, the company voluntarily surrendered its license after managing the facilities since December 2021. The doors were officially closed on January 6, 2023.
Based on the facilities’ Facebook posts, advertisements, and the recent environment in hiring and maintaining employees, the management company was experiencing difficulty recruiting employees. Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)reports indicate that staffing was a concern.
The MDH survey reports that interviews with staff confirm that residents and their family members, and staff were told in November that the facility was closing. A couple of weeks later they were told that it was not going to close, but by this time staff were resigning because they had found new jobs. This caused management to again say that the facilities were closing.
Online propublica.org, a non-profit organization summarized that there were 22 total deficiencies, one infection-related deficiency, one payment suspension, and $9,750 in total fines since January 1, 2022.
On November 30, 2022, the facilities received a J rating for severity, meaning “immediate jeopardy to resident health or safety” and that the deficiency is isolated. The report does not paint a positive environment.
Medicare.gov shows an overall rating of one star out of five (much below average), health inspections received a one-star rating (much below average), staffing four out of five stars (above average), quality measures received a four out of five rating (above average).
At the time the facility was evaculated there were 22 nursing home residents and nine assisted living residents. Hertzel emphasized that his management team helped Pine View residents to relocate.
Houston County Public Health and Human Services director John Pugleasa explained that his department and area senior living facilities stepped in to help find homes for the residents.
Unbeknown to the state, there were two management companies. Nava Healthcare, based in Hollywood, Fla., managed the nursing home, and Cornerstone Management out of Rochester, Minn., managed Buckley, the assisted living facility.
Cornerstone Management CEO/Owner Mark Dickson declined to be interviewed for the story and recommended talking to the owners.
According to Beacon, a GIS based map interface, Beacon lists the taxpayer as 425 Badger Street Caledonia RealCo, a LLC located at 5 Brighton Lane, Oak Brook, Ill. 60523.
The property owner Mark Myers, an equity manager with Walker & Dunlop based in Chicago, did not reply to an email for an interview, leaving a trail of unanswered questions including what is going to happen to the vacant buildings.
Recently, Houston County EDA Director Allison Wagner shared that she was contacted by the real estate agency listing the property to see if the county would be interested in purchasing the property.
Caledonia levied liens against the property within the last year for unpaid utilities. “Absolutely not true,” said Hertzel. “I can tell you unequivocally that we never received a single lien letter, and I can tell you unequivocally that we paid all our utilities in a timely fashion. I have all the proof of that. Respectively, anything financial as the nature of what we do, which is handling distressed assets we use a third-party accounting firm… We always ensure that the records are clean by utilizing a third party.”
The number of employees in both facilities could not be confirmed. Hertzel explained that there were not many employees left at the end and those were laid off.
In March, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) shared the December 2022 Minnesota Employment and Economic Development plant closings/mass layoffs report which lists the number of employees at 16 based on the department’s “best guess based on information we obtained from the employer.” Again, it is the department’s “best guess based on information obtained from the employer, media, or individual workers who have contacted the state” that layoffs started on February 3, 2023. The report goes on to indicate that the department did not receive a warning. According to the report, the layoff is due to the facility closing. The status of the layoff was labeled “a small layoff service” meaning that workers interested in enrolling in Dislocated Worker (DW) can go to any of the state’s Workforce Centers or independent service providers.
Displaced workers were directed to the local Workforce Development, Inc. (WDI) office in Caledonia for assistance. Mitch Primus, WDI career planner explained, “The people that lost their jobs because of this closure would be eligible for the Dislocated Worker program. If they wanted to seek some additional training into high demand career fields because we don’t want them again obviously if we get them in higher demand career fields less likely of them getting laid off again. I can provide job search help even if they do not enroll in the Dislocated Worker program. I have helped a few people that come in our doors needing resumes and some pointers on who is hiring in the area. We compile a list every two weeks of open jobs in the area.”
Displaced workers needing assistance were encouraged to contact the office at (507) 724-5231 or (800) 657-4620 or stop in at the office at 110 E. Grove St., Caledonia to visit with Primus.
Wagner passionately wonders how to prevent this from happening again.
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