Centerville Saves Nursing Home, Secures Future Growth
The number of older adults in our country will nearly double by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This dramatic change presents a host of social and economic challenges, particularly for rural areas with more limited resources.
One of the challenges is to ensure an adequate number of long-term care facilities exist outside of urban centers. One quarter of elders currently reside in rural areas — and most people prefer to age in place near family and friends.
There’s no one-size-fits-all way to address this issue. But some cities and counties are forging creative paths forward. An important lesson can be learned from a forward-thinking economic development agency in Centerville, South Dakota.
About five years ago, the community’s sole nursing home was in jeopardy. The Good Samaritan Society had operated the Centerville Care and Rehab Center for more than half a century. But the nonprofit opted to close the facility due to a combination of factors, including an uncertain census, lack of profitability and the need to install an expensive sprinkler system.
Good Samaritan was willing to donate the building to another nonprofit, but none were willing to take on the risk, as the facility was reportedly losing thousands of dollars a month.
After careful consideration by community leaders, the Centerville Development Corporation (CDC) took on the project. "I think sometimes smaller communities have to get creative and find nontraditional ways to address the issues they may be facing,” explains Centerville Community & Economic Development Coordinator Jared Hybertson. “At the end of the day, we took a risk that ultimately saved the nursing home.”
CDC’s aim is to help create, encourage and support growth and development. On the surface, owning a nursing home doesn’t seem to correspond with these goals. But Hybertson points out that the facility is an essential part of the community.
“I cannot imagine what our community would look like today if we would have lost our nursing home. The trickle down impact would have been devastating,” Hybertson says.
Centerville Care and Rehab Center is the largest employer in Centerville, with about 50 workers. It also provides a safe, comfortable living option for the area’s aging population, housing up to 52 residents.
CDC hired Chad Stroshein of Caring Professionals, Inc. to operate the facility. Hybertson says Stroshein has a proven record of managing nursing homes in rural areas.
Within five years, the initial goal of simply maintaining the facility and not losing money was exceeded. They made capital improvements and raised the living standards of residents.
CDC turned the once failing nursing home around so that it could be sold off to Caring Professionals at a profit. This was a win for the community, both in terms of keeping its largest employer and its long-term care facility.
It was also a win for Centerville’s growth. The proceeds of the nursing home sale will serve as an important endowment that can help sustain future CDC projects.
“The risk has panned out so we’ll now be able to ensure long term sustainability for our organization and an increased budget for future economic development projects. Our community will see the benefits for years to come,” says Hybertson.
Centerville Development Corporation is a member of the South Dakota Prairie Gateway, a portal for economic development information in Eastern Rural Communities of South Dakota
Centerville, SD 57014