Lodge of Winthrop to open, welcome transfers from Lafayette

LAFAYETTE – One door closes and another opens.

After decades of service as a nursing home and more recently converted an assisted living facility, the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (GSS)-Lafayette will close its doors at the end of December.

Meanwhile, The Lodge of Winthrop, a new assisted-living campus with 16 apartments attached to the current 55-plus community in the southwest corner of Winthrop that offers skilled and rehabilitation care will open in January 2014. Residents of the GSS in Lafayette will be given priority admission to The Lodge of Winthrop with no service lapse.

Winthrop and Lafayette GSS Administrator Lori Bussler said the 23-apartment Lafayette facility has been operating at about half capacity for the past few years. Because the aging building would require extensive mechanical and physical plant work costing more than $500,000 in the next few years, the decision was made to build a new facility in Winthrop.

For Lafayette GSS Housing Manager Pam Morson, who has been at the facility for 33 years, the change means driving to Winthrop to work instead of a short walk from her home.

“It’s going to be hard to leave, but I’m excited to be moving to a new building with less maintenance,” Morson said.

“We’ve been part of the (Lafayette) community for a long time, which makes it tougher when it’s time to go,” Bussler said. “The 4-H clubs, churches and Lafayette Charter School (LCS) have done lots of important activities with us.”

Morson isn’t the only Lafayette employee with lots of longevity.

In August, GSS-Lafayette Universal Worker/Food Manager Judy Ross received the Care Providers of Minnesota Assisted Living Award Employee of the Year at a statewide assisted living and senior housing conference in St. Cloud. The award honors an employee for contributions that have improved the quality of life for residents and enhanced the working environment for co-workers.

Ross was chosen due to her unwavering commitment to Lafayette residents and the many extras she did for residents and staff, listening to their stories, knowing and serving their food preferences and favorites, and taking a genuine interest in each person.

“She has a natural ability to make people feel good and needed, said Lafayette resident Inez. “Judy is tops. She is super, always asking if there is anything she can do for me.”

In October, the non-profit GSS offered its Lafayette facility to the City of Lafayette free of charge with a deed that stated the building can’t become another group home or another competing entity.

If the City of Lafayette doesn’t accept it, the building goes to a non-profit organization with the same limited deed. The City has until February 2014 to decide what to do with the building. If the City does not accept the building, the GSS will try to find a non-profit organization to accept it.

For more information, visit www.good-sam.com/winthrop

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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