The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) provided a quarterly update on the Preston Veterans Home on January 10. Administrator Dave Dunn has been hired and has a temporary office at 216 Main Street in Preston (the old movie theater). The 54 bed facility may open in mid-June. The building is expected to be substantially completed by the end of March.
The home is expected to employ about 126 full-time or part-time employees. This is approximately 9% of Preston’s population.
Dunn has 18 years of experience as a nursing home administrator. He has a Master of Science in Health Care Administration and is a 15-year veteran of the United States Air Force. Dunn grew up in Springfield, Ill. He has lived in Minnesota since about 2000.
Valerie Ness has been hired as the director of nursing.
Ness has been a director of nursing for 19 years and a nurse for 30 years. She is from the area, has relatives in Chatfield, and is passionate about long term care. Her father was a Marine.
Dunn said his goal is to hire as many veterans as possible. The majority of the hiring will occur in the spring and continue through the summer. He hopes to have other key roles/department leaders filled by March.
His number one mission is to provide the best care possible for residents.
This will be a skilled nursing facility and prospective residents must require that level of care. Veterans must have had at least 181 days of active duty and have been honorably discharged. Spouses of an eligible veteran that meet residency requirements may qualify.
The home will likely admit 20 residents when it opens. Then, it has to be surveyed. When it passes that survey, more residents will be admitted.
Simone Hogan, senior director for Veterans Health Care, said training for many employees will begin two to four weeks before residents move in. Hogan hopes many will start with us and develop it into a career. Dunn added staff will be able to know residents well, providing continuity of care.
The Preston Home will have three “households” with 18 private rooms, each with a private bath, to provide a more homelike atmosphere.
Derek O’Connor, Knutson Construction, led community members through the facility which has large windows that provide natural lighting. Each room is controlled by an individual thermostat, each has lifts, and will have wi-fi and television. Residents will be able to come to the family dining room for their household as meals are prepared adding to the homelike atmosphere.
Public spaces include a town center featuring a small coffee shop/cafe, theater/meeting room, family dining room, meditation room/chapel, and club room.
The work being done now is finishing work on the inside. O’Connor reported the footings for the maintenance building will be dug on Monday.
For information on career opportunities visit MinnesotaVeteran.org/FutureHomes or email NewHomesJobs@state.mn.us. To submit an application to be a resident visit MinnesotaVeteran.org/FutureHomes or email NewHomesAdmissions@state.mn.us, email: PrestonVeteransHome.MDVA@state.mn.us. Telephone numbers are (833) 886-0564 toll-free or (507) 765-7329 locally.