Hospital votes to build assisted living facility

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After more than two years of studying and debating how to move forward with building an assisted living and memory care facility, the Swift County-Benson Health Services governing board voted unanimously Monday night to move ahead with a project.

It is estimated the project will cost about $10.5 million and will be financed by revenue bonds. Those bonds will be paid off by hospital earnings and do not involve any general obligation bond backing from the City of Benson or Swift County.

The security for the revenue bonds will be the revenues earned by the hospital and its assisted living operation.

It is hoped that ground can be broken for the project by late July or early August.

The decision came after an hour-long discussion with Quintin Harris, senior vice president for Lancaster-Pollard, of Minneapolis. The firm specializes in the health care sector, working with communities on plans for senior living.  It provides financial assessment of a proposed project, looks at the financing options and helps secure the financing.

To make the project more financially feasible, the governing board agreed to scale back the initial phase of the project. The original project called for 22 assisted living beds on the main floor of the two-story building. It also called for 16 memory care beds and 34 enhanced assisted living beds. The new project cuts 18 of those enhanced assisted living beds.

Enhanced assisted living beds can be the most profitable for the hospital, but they are also the most expensive to operate. Further, they see considerable turnover so can be difficult to keep full.

While the project will be scaled back by 9,600 square feet to about a 51,000-square-foot building, hospital CEO Kurt Waldbillig said that construction of the first phase would be done to allow for an addition should it be needed. The building will be attached to the south side of Scofield Place on land owned by the hospital....


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