Viroqua nursing home transitioning to Community Based Residential Facility

VIROQUA, Wis. (WKBT) —  Bethel Home Skilled Nursing Facility in Viroqua is planning to transition to offer a different kind of senior care.

Bethel leaders say this is largely because of staffing shortages, but also comes in response to demand from the growing senior population. It will provide a longer term care facility that is less hands-on.

“To age in place. That’s just a term that means you aren’t transferring people here, there, and everywhere. This is their home,” said Jeanne Gander Barr, an administrator at Bethel.

This transition to a Community Based Residential Facility will allow the home to hire a different kind of staff.

“We look for the good in people; the heart in the people,” Bethel CEO Debra Stout-Tewalt said. “Then, we do a lot of training.”

It will also drop the numbers housed in the facility from 50 to 20.

“The healthcare industry, in total, doesn’t have the professional staff—the licensed, or the certified staff, to care for the level of people that we have,” Bethel CEO Debra Stout-Tewalt said.

Officials hoped that staffing problems would ease as the pandemic waned, but the hiring drought has not let up.

“We were hoping that with the vaccine people would stay in healthcare, but we have not seen that,” Gander Barr said.

With this change, Gander Barr hopes to stay ahead of the curve.

“We decided to be the visionary, and Bethel Home and Services has always been the visionary,” Gander Barr said.

The facility isn’t going away, and neither are its employees.

“Our goal is to displace as few people as possible; and for those who are being displaced, to help them as much as possible,” Gander Barr said.

For its residents, Bethel is working with the state, residents and their families to help relocate them to places appropriate for each person. Some residents will remain at the facility throughout the transition and may stay.

Gander Barr says they plan to complete the transition within 90 days.

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