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Selby rallies in attempt to keep nursing home and its 45 residents, 50 employees

Aberdeen American News - 10/10/2018

Oct. 10--There might only be a few things keeping rural communities like Selby, population roughly 625, on the map.

That's why the town is rallying in an attempt to keep its nursing home.

The Good Samaritan Center has 45 residents and employs 50 people.

That's one-fourth of the workforce in town, said Dan Biel, Selby resident and president of the nonprofit group Walworth County Care Center Inc. That's the group established to try and buy the nursing home and operate it into the future.

"(The nursing home has) been in our town a long time," he said.

Selby built the Good Samaritan Center in the early 1960s, and that means the community has a strong interest in keeping it, he said.

Preventing the job losses alone is an incentive, but there are a lot of local people who live in the home, Biel said.

"It would be catastrophic to move those residents at this stage in their lives. We don't want people to have to move, so we gotta try (to keep it open)," he said.

While the Good Samaritan Society has been operating the facility since it opened, it no longer wants to run it, Biel said.

Walworth County Care Center is working closely with the Good Samaritan Society in order to ensure a smooth transition, Biel said.

The Good Samaritan Society is continuously looking at its facilities, the regulatory environment, health care reimbursements and whether each site is sustainable, said Aaron Woods, director of corporate communications.

"When there are significant challenges we look at alternatives," he said.

Discussions are ongoing in Selby, Woods said. He's hopeful.

"What's significant about this relationship is that if we're successful in gaining approval from the city it will ensure sustainable operations for those that we are care for," he said. "And that's been our mission all along ... We believe Selby will look like a success story with this partnership."

When Biel and a few other concerned citizens first heard of the potential closure, they decided something had to be done.

"We had a choice to let it go or try to form a nonprofit and make a go of it," he said.

There were about 450 people at a Sept. 18 meeting to gauge interest, according to Biel. Some were from surrounding towns, he said, but the turnout meant there are enough people willing to stand behind the nursing home.

"It's a good facility that we're proud of, and we'd like to keep it for our town," he said.

That means raising $500,000, which will aid the nonprofit in meeting its objective of keeping the nursing home open for another 50 years, Biel said.

Walworth County Care Center will host another meeting at 7 p.m.Oct. 17 at Selby Area school, 108 E. Dakota St. A consultant for the management team will answer questions.

Two fundraisers have already been scheduled. The Hiddenwood Sportsman Club of Selby will host a walleye fish fry from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.Oct. 26 at May Acres Golf Course, 201 S. Railway St. Donations will be accepted. BankWest of Selby will match the first $5,000 raised, Biel said.

A prime rib meal with both a silent and live auction is planned for Nov. 3 at the Selby Opera House, 3499 Main St. Cocktail hour begins at 5:30 p.m., the meal is at 6:30 p.m. The auction, as well as a comedic hypnotist, will follow. Tickets are $50.

There are a few other things in the works, Biel said, but nothing else set in stone.

"We've been getting some money in already, as we needed money to start," he said.

There is also a bank account set up at BankWest in Selby for the Walworth County Care Center.

Walworth County Care Center has hired consult and management firm Rural Health Development Inc., which has helped other small towns that have faced similar problems, Biel said.

"It's the way the industry is, the way business works, the way small towns are going," he said. "But we're going to try to save ours, and we will."

Follow @vlusk_aan on Twitter.

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(c)2018 the American News (Aberdeen, S.D.)

Visit the American News (Aberdeen, S.D.) at www.aberdeennews.com

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