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LETTER: …while I will be just fine without my job, 49 of my colleagues likely will not

Dear Editor,

When three of my grandparents were no longer able to stay at home because of medical issues and aging, my family was fortunate to be able to visit them daily at the Boundary Waters Care Center (then the Ely Nursing Home). During junior high and high school, volunteer opportunities as a candystriper at the nursing home steered me into a long career in nursing.  Recently, a family member had a three month stay at the BWCC for recovery and rehabilitation from an injury. Again, it was convenient to visit on a daily basis, stop in with important news or mail, and bring a dog to visit. As a health care professional, I was impressed with the care given, the camaraderie, caring nature, and medical expertise of the staff, including the rehabilitation and dietary departments.

About four months ago I surprised myself by coming out of retirement to accept a position at the Boundary Waters Care Center. While I hadn’t ever really considered a job in long term care, I discovered what a rewarding position it is. I love my job. I love going to work. I love the residents and the staff with whom I get to interact.

Through no fault of their own, the Boundary Waters Care Center has found itself in a rather precarious financial position, the result of a “perfect storm” of factors which they have no control over (slow and lacking reimbursement, staff shortages, etc). Their goal as a non-profit is to break even while providing high quality and accessible care to residents of Ely and the surrounding area. That is threatened. Closure of the BWCC is a possibility. The next closest skilled nursing facility is roughly 50 miles away, quite the drive for family and friends.

Please take a moment to reach out to our local legislators and encourage them to support House File 733 and Senate File #7 which would provide increased staff wages (HF 733) and cost reports and gap funding (SF #7). While this isn’t a permanent fix to the problem, it is a solution that would increase the viability of the BWCC and allow it to continue operations. Representative Roger Skraba can be reached at: 1-651-296-2190 (or toll free at 800-339-0466) or email (  Senator Grant Hauschild can be reached at: 1-651-296-1789.

While I will be just fine without my job, 49 of my colleagues likely will not. Even worse, the residents and their families will be greatly impacted by the closure of this long-standing community facility.  Donations in any amount can be sent to Adam Masloski, Executive Director, BWCC, 200 W. Conan St., Ely, MN 55731. Many of us don’t think about our future need for services (including long term care) until we need them. Wouldn’t it be a travesty if this service isn’t there when we need it most?

Sally Koski, PhD, RN

Nurse Educator

Boundary Waters Care Center

Ely, MN

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