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Nursing home has its lifeline, but fund drive shows that needs remain

TALKING NURSING HOMES were Sen. Grant Hauschild, Adam Masloski of Boundary Waters Care Center and Rep. Roger Skraba May 23 in Ely. Photo by Tom Coombe.

What a difference one year makes - as leaders at the Boundary Waters Care Center can attest.

A year ago today, Ely’s nursing home was fighting for its very survival, as a woeful reimbursement system, employee shortages and a low census created a financial mess that put the facility on the verge of closing its doors.

First the Ely community and then state lawmakers rose to the occasion, combining to give BWCC an 11th hour reprieve.

A direct appeal to the community for funds resulted in about $60,000 in needed cash, while the legislature delivered better than $1 million through various funding mechanisms.

The nursing home got its lifeline, and today the facility’s future is much more secure - and much brighter - than it was during the first part of 2023.

That’s good news not only for those BWCC officials breathing a sigh of relief and the families with loved ones at the facility, but for the Ely community as a whole.

Like the school, the hospital, the community college and the now-struggling ambulance service, the nursing home is one of those pillars of Ely. A community necessity and not a want.

The next-nearest nursing facility is an hour away, and the absence of the BWCC would create hardships for our elderly and their loved ones, adding so many logistical difficulties at an already difficult time in life.

There are other benefits as well, notably the jobs that result from BWCC’s continued existence in Ely.

The community recognized those things and helped come to the rescue, and we’re pleased that both of our area legislators - State Sen. Grant Hauschild (D) and State Rep. Roger Skraba (R) - put their partisan hats aside last session and worked together on measures that would aid and assist Ely’s nursing home.

The state fixes weren’t perfect nor permanent but the nursing home issue goes beyond Ely and we’re hopeful, if not confident, that BWCC and other nursing facilities will get the help they need to keep going.

Community support figures to be a continued piece of the puzzle, with BWCC renewing its appeal to the community last month and again seeking area help by way of donations.

The pitch doesn’t have the same urgency as it did a year ago yet it’s still important.

Take some time and consider what might occur months, years or decades into the future, if a parent or grandparent, or even ourselves, come to need the care that BWCC can provide.

Having that facility across town rather than across the Range is valuable but not free of charge.

A little bit of giving now might ensure that BWCC will be there for all of us in the future.

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