Skilled nursing facilities nationwide are facing severe challenges. RiverView Health’s Memory Care is no exception.

Residents and staff were notified earlier this week that RiverView Health would no longer operate its skilled nursing facility, closing RiverView Memory Care. Resident transition teams are working with the families of the 17 residents to guide them through the relocation process.

Due to significant shortages of nursing assistants and licensed nurses, RiverView’s Memory Care has increasingly been forced to provide resident care through temporary, traveling staff. The cost of traveling labor hit a record high in 2022, almost doubling from the year before. In 2022, traveling labor costs exceeded $725,000 for Memory Care. With the State of Minnesota caps in place for spending on travel labor, RiverView Health was left to subsidize the extra labor expense.

“Without the State of Minnesota acting to ensure skilled nursing facility rates are adequate to cover the cost of care, hospitals that own skilled nursing facilities, like RiverView, are forced to cover the losses from depleting hospital reserves,” stated Carrie Michalski, RiverView President, and CEO. “These losses also take a toll on the community health system.

“RiverView Health is the only hospital in Crookston and the primary hospital for many surrounding communities. Fortunately, Crookston has another exceptional provider of skilled nursing services, Benedictine Living Community-Crookston, operated by Benedictine.”

An agreement between RiverView and Benedictine Crookston has been established to help facilitate transfer between the two facilities for residents wishing to stay in Crookston. Due to the Memory Care closure, the State of Minnesota will provide an estimated $49,000 in annual incentive payments to skilled nursing facilities near Crookston. 

“We are hopeful the State will agree that 100% of that money should stay in Crookston to strengthen the funding for services in our area. If it takes our small unit closing for the State to better fund services in the community, that will be a silver lining to this very difficult decision,” Michalski concluded.

Severance packages and retention incentives have been offered to staff participating in the transition, with the hope that Memory Care staff will apply for open positions within RiverView Health.