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February 10, 2011     Tri-County News
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February 10, 2011
 

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| Thursday, February 10, 2011 HiUtop's future still in the air L By leanDoranMatua, Editor 86. And they have 50 beds (with etter tothe Editor About 30 people gathered in Wat- five currently vacant). Employ- kins City Hall Monday night, Feb. 7, ees, residents, and families all are Congratulations to Jean Matua great and the front pages are "top- eager to learn more about what will very happy with Hilltop. (In fact, and your staff at the Tri-County notch!" happen to Hilltop Care Center, the Hilltop is ranked #34 in the state News on receiving the outstanding We thank you, town's largest employer, among all nursing homes.) awards for excellence. Your efforts Mariella Arnold, Mary Johnson, Bobbe Teigen, CEO of Paynes- Yet they have lost $300,000 in bring honor and recognition to the Jan Strand, and Anita Vossen ville Area Healthcare System revenues- that have been subsi- Kimball community. The paper is (PAHCS), the parent company of dized by the parent organization, Hilltop, and some of her staff sat PAHCS. Projections show lossesB of Life front and center to hear questions up to $600,000 a year soon. Jill PerUer and comments. She started by The core of the problem is explaining that no decisions have chronic unfairness of reim- "Slices " yet been made. She and others in bursement by the state. Because the organization are in the process Hilltop is located in Meeker of gathering data on which the County, and relegated to the t~]~ y~]~ ~1~]~[~ board will make an informed deci- lowest-payingclass of"deep-rural" sion. This could come together facilities, Hilltop is paid between No matter how grown up you of discussion. Back when long dis- around May, about the time Minn. $15-34 per bed per day less than if become, you experience moments tance bills were a concern for half Rep. Dean Urdahl hopes to get a it were located in Stearns County. when there's nothing you'd rather the country, ours were through bill through the Legislature that And the kicker is that Hilltop is do than talk to your mother, the roof, and she never once men- would help Hilltop specifically, located less than a quarter mile For me, those times come when tioned the need to hang up. (More on that later.) from the Stearns County line. I have something special to share Now, she usually repeats what I Oct. 27, PAHCS announced that Koronis Manor, another nurs- - especially a personal success, say. "Hi, Morn!" she answers back, it would "explore restructuring ing home that is part of the PAHCS No one is more proud of you than and I realize it's time for introduc- options" that would make Hilltop organization, makes a smallprofit, your mom. No one revels in your tions. financially sustainable into the It's in Stearns County. glory quite like the woman who "This is Jill," I say. future. Another factor is that demo- rocked you asleep in the middle of "Jill?" she speaks the wordlike a These options include: graphic studies show a lessening the night when you were nothing question and is silent. I know she is c o n t i n u i n g a s- is (1 o s i n g need for nursing care facilities as more than an itty bitty bit. thinking, "Who is Jill?" Her silence $300,000 a year); assisted living, home care, and I shared everything with is more difficult than any words re-invent and re-engineer other options rise. my morn. She would listen, lis- could ever be; I swallow hard, my Hilltop, including making needed Enter Rep. Urdahl. ten and then listen some more. throat becomes thick and it is all I upgrades to the physical building, He'd been contacted by sev-When I went across the country can do to stay on the line. and possibly expanding services; eral community merdbers about to go to college, I called her, cry- Our conversations are brief. finding another organization the fate of Hilltop. He has pre- ing and homesick during the first There isn't much to say. Some- to purchase Hilltop; and sented a bill to help equalize fund- few weeks. She spent hours on times, this feels even more heart possible closure, ing for nursing homes around the the other end of the phone, tell- wrenching than not talking at all. Teigen assured the Watkins state. But he soon realized there's ing me I could come home- or not. I catch glimmers of the morn City Council and Economic Devel- not enough money in Minnesota's Her support was unconditional I once knew. I can see her try- opment Authority, as well as con- budget to accomplish that. and gave me the strength to see it ing to hold on and keep up. She cerned community members at "If I can't help all of them, we'll through that first semester. When attempts to ask about my writing, the meeting, that closure is some- do it one at a time, and we'll start I graduated from college fouryears because somewhere inside herself thing they are working hard to with this one," he told the group, later, I not only had a diploma, but she understands it's important to avoid. All efforts right now, she He's hoping the bill will mean the capability and courage that me. After all Alzheimer's has put explained, are being focused on $300,000 per year in additional came from staying with a difficult her through, she is still trying to gathering information for the first reimbursement to Hilltop. situation until it became okay and, meet my needs. It literally takes two options, continuing or re- He admitted, though, that such after time, even better than okay. my breath away. designing Hilltop. They may begin a Health and Human -Services Through the years, whether we Although most of her words are soon lookillg at prospective buyers bill will be one of the last done talked ofmy trials alld tribulations ~%z/-CZ, lag or ttnspokell. oriel1 kll~,w a nxty, oy tnv L i0 atu,v, 0 a JUt . 0I [IiU lplI - Ull l IOt00 l llCi t n to ay, v, vcn attm All in the room agreed that Hill- top Care Center provides wonder- ful and needed services to Wat- kins and surrounding commu- nities and beyond. They employ controversy, and HHS reductions are already likely, he said. Urdahl is "pretty sure" it will be part of the House bill, not Hilltop/To page 3 Slim anflles "Home Country" Romance on Valentine's Day and mourned - or celebrated - point in her disease, I understand with me. her, as she tries so desperately to Whenever I dialed her hum- hang on and continue to under- ber, I loved knowing she'd be at the stand me. Despite the Alzheimer's, other end. We'd chat for 20 min- we remain connected - extensions utes about something as banal of one another - in some odd, hut as ironing. We didn't need any- miraculous, sense. thing to talk about to fill the air- It is still a gift, even though it waves between us. A conversation doesn't always feel that way. with her was like meeting up with (Note: This is part one of a two- an extension of me. It was a gift I part column written a year ago, as didn!t appreciate, my mom was entering a nursing Oh, what I would give to talk to home. When it was written, it felt The two horses walked slowlyMaybe I should say somethingmy morn- really talk, about some- too tender to publish. A year has past the Mule Barn truck stop the to him. After all, if I hadn't told thing as complex as ironing - and passed and nowit seems time.) other day. In the months since him he needed me as a girlfriend, to have her possess the ability to Jill Pertler, award-winning syn- their owners, Randy Jones and where wouldwebetoday? really listen, dicated columnist and author of Katle Burchell, have been in love, Randy: I still dial her number; she"The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to the~ horses have learned how to Katie sure is pretty. I wonder if answers at the other end. I hear Self-Syndication" is collecting walk: slowly, side-by-side, with she has a mechanical hackamore I her voice, and like always, I try to fans on Facebook on her Slices of just enough room between them can borrow, let her know how happy I am to Life page. E-mail her at