Category Archives: Uncategorized

Advent

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Brandon and Franklin with Finnish Painting

Brandon and Franklin with Finnish Painting are touching up a hallway before new carpeting is installed for Vista Prairie at Fieldcrest in Sheldon, IA. As Christmas draws near, anticipation also is building for Fieldcrest residents as a renovation project in excess of $1.5 million reaches the halfway point.

“They get to watch the whole thing happen right before their eyes,” says Senior Executive Director Cal Diekmann. “They’re very excited about the end product but for now, they’re so excited just watching it.”

Now that it’s recarpeted, new furniture soon will be installed in the front living room, along with new curtains and a dramatic new fireplace, still to come.

Anticipating the end product is what has Cal most excited, “Our residents will have a brand-new dining experience,” he says. Meal offerings will feature more menu choices thanks to a completely refitted kitchen. Mealtimes will be staggered to fit better with residents’ plans, rather than having to observe a set meal schedule.

Residents will watch food being prepared from an in-dining room serving area. “It will be more of a home-cooked feeling, and I’m very excited about that,” Cal says.

Even an investment of more than $1.5 million has its limits. Replacement chairs for the activities room did not make the final cut, so Fieldcrest has launched a fundraiser for 50 chairs. Some residents have already stepped up to buy a chair, and so have some of Fieldcrest’s best vendors. If you would like to sponsor a chair, please designate your Fieldcrest gift online

While Fieldcrest’s staff also anticipate their new surroundings, renovations can be tough on caregivers too. “Absolutely,” Cal says. “They have to put up with last minute decisions. They do it with a smile, and they ask me if I need help. Just amazing.”

Fieldcrest offers 69 one- and two-bedroom assisted living apartments for seniors who need access to personal care and supportive services. We also offer 12 memory care suites that provide a long-term option for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

Dazzling bouquets

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The brilliant dahlia next to Shari Rich is just one of the dazzling bouquets gracing dining tables at Vista Prairie at Monarch Meadows in North Mankato, MN. As the community’s activities manager, Shari recently collaborated with area gardener Sharon Chader on a joy-filled event.

“She has a huge garden full of flowers,” Shari explained. “She calls it ‘Lessons from the Garden.’ She donates all these flowers, and she doesn’t want to take anything home with her. She gives a little lesson as she’s putting bouquets together, and then she turns it over to the residents.”

Click here to see the result on Facebook. It’s Sharon’s ministry of beauty. It’s Shari’s way to help residents thrive.

“It was so much fun,” Shari says, beaming. “The joy on their faces… people who don’t usually smile… ‘just look at what I have,’” they say.

Events like this are just one of many ways Shari helps residents find their smiles and joy. She and her activities assistants conduct daily exercise for better physical health. And she’s an entertainer as well, with an unusual talent. Twenty-five years ago, she and her late husband got involved in puppet ministry in their church.

“We took our puppet team to a festival in the Twin Cities,” Shari remembers. “I saw someone do ventriloquism and I was hooked.”

These days, Shari uses her menagerie of puppets for her ventriloquist routines, “Mine are all animals, except for a pink girl, one of three main puppets,” she says. “There’s also a skunk; her name is Daisy. She’s fabulous. And then my alligator, the residents are going to meet this month.”

Shari concludes that when Monarch Meadows residents thrive, they are the dazzling bouquets for her.

“I like to find out what interests them, what their past interests were,” Shari explains. “Seeing their faces light up when they see you, that is just amazing. It’s about making a difference in their lives. I love it.”

One of our largest communities, Vista Prairie at Monarch Meadows offers 87 one-and-two-bedroom assisted living apartments and 11 care suites. We also provide two respite suites, for short-term care when home caregivers need a break. Call Maddy at (507) 933-4681 to book a tour.

Passion, Purpose and Flexibility

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Shirley’s long-time passion was downhill skiing. She’s standing next to a framed collection of patches from all the mountains where she and Marvin skied during much of their 65- year marriage. Marv passed away a few months after they moved into Vista Prairie at Goldfinch Estates in Fairmont, MN. Now 90, Shirley’s fellow Goldfinch residents became her family, along with two children, four grand-kinds and five great grand-children, one of whom she recently met for the first time.

While childrearing and skiing were among Shirley’s passions, her lifelong purpose was “helping.” Her career in nursing evolved to leadership and administration in Estherville, Iowa, where she started the School of Nursing at Iowa Lakes Community College.

“Then they moved the school to Emmetsburg,” Shirley recounts. “That made the driving too much for me so they asked if I would be director of nursing at Holy Family Hospital, which I did for a long time.”

Shirley’s career flexibility set up her third chapter in nursing after she and Marv moved to Fairmont. She directed services at a half-way house and an outpatient center treating people with chemical dependency. She served her final nursing role for people who were incarcerated in the Martin County jail, retiring when she was 77. 

As we enter the 21st month of this pandemic, Shirley still has the mind of a nurse. She laments that not as many people are vaccinated as should be. “I think the messages are mixed,” she says. “I think the science is good but then people begin to go out on their own. ‘The government isn’t going to tell me what to do.’ Well, they tell you; you have to wear a seatbelt. They tell you; you can’t drive more than so many miles an hour. What’s the big deal?”

Shirley skied until she was 77. “Skiing is my claim to fame,” she sums up. She and Marv skied together all over the world, much of it after Marv lost one of his legs to cancer. “They told him when they amputated that he only had a 20 percent chance of living,” Shirley remembers. “And he lived 30 years.”

The Goldfinch Estates community offers 92 one and two-bedroom apartments, like Shirley’s, for seniors who want access to supportive services while maintaining their independence.  We also offer 41 memory care suites that provide a long-term option for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

Roots and Wings

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Family roots helped guide a career in pharmacy, a profession instrumental in vaccinating his generation against COVID-19. Air Force wings propelled him to meet his wife of 56-years. Duane Hammargren’s roots and wings have influenced his 89-year journey, with a few fiery detours along the way. The Vista Prairie at Windmill Ponds community in Alexandria, MN has been Duane’s home for more than five years.

As a boy and later a young man, Duane’s roots grew deep in drugstores. He swept the floor at the store his dad owned. After his father became a traveling rep for a pharmaceutical company, Duane was called home from his first year in college to drive his dad from store to store, following a serious car accident.

Those experiences grew Duane’s wings to his own career in pharmacy, enrolling at what is now North Dakota State in Fargo. Wings of a different nature led to a detour. Four days after he joined the Air National Guard while in college, his unit was called to active duty during the Korean War. Following his Air Force discharge two years later, he met and soon married his bride Joanne.

“She was a wonderful person. I married up,” Duane says. He resumed his pharmacy studies in Fargo. In the next three years, Jo gave birth to two of the couple’s five children. During those school years, Duane supplemented Jo’s income as a nurse by working full-time in a drugstore in Moorhead. 

“I really enjoyed the school and the classes,” Duane recalls. “Just before I graduated, I was initiated into the Rho Chi Pharmacy Honor Society.” Now a licensed pharmacist, Duane and Jo wound up in the Twin Cities suburbs where his professional roots and wings eventually combined with his beloved partner and mentor Don Hanson in the business of pharmacy.

Duane vividly recalls another detour in those early years, “Thanksgiving Day, 1965, got a phone call that the whole shopping center was on fire.” It started in a back room of the Gamble store next door. While the store was a total loss, Duane and Don set up shop in a small vacant drive-in restaurant – and were back in business the same day, at least to dispense prescriptions.

“When we moved back into the main store after the fire, Don sat down with me and wanted to know if I’d like to be his partner,” he remembers. “I went to work as a pharmacist and when I came back after the fire, I was a partner!” Don and Duane eventually expanded to four pharmacies, which they managed until they sold all four and retired in 1983.

Duane and Jo moved to Alexandria where they found a house on Lake Ida until yet another detour. Their car exploded in their driveway and set the house on fire – another total loss. They had already put down roots on that lot, so they built a new house on the same site.

After Jo passed away in 2011, life got lonely for Duane, even with 15 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. He decided to move to Windmill Ponds five years ago. Considering the pandemic’s challenges, Duane credits the community’s executive director, Chris Carter, “I feel that her handling of the virus has been excellent. She’s done an excellent job.”

Duane’s roots in health care make him a believer in the value of the COVID-19 vaccine. “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he says. He’ll get his second dose of the Moderna vaccine at Windmill Ponds on Feb. 16. The community offers assisted living in 65 one- and two-bedroom apartments, designed for seniors who enjoy an active social environment and expect high quality care.

editor’s note — Windmill Ponds plans to resume inside visits following required COVID-19 testing, in compliance with Minnesota Department of Health guidelines.

Holly and Jingles — out of quarantine!

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December 10 was a big day for Holly and Jingles as the two elves ended their 14-day quarantine.  They are back for their third year, making spirits bright for Vista Prairie at Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls, MN. The COVID-19 safety protocol made this year’s visit a little different.

“The residents have really enjoyed them these last two years,” reports Colleen Marcus, Garnette’s community outreach manager. “A few will go around each day and look for where they might be.” 

With their new-found freedom, Holly and Jingles will be roaming around the community from now ‘till Christmas Eve, making sure everybody is ready for Santa. You can track their adventures on the community’s Facebook page

Holly and Jingles got their invitation from Garnette Gardens Executive Director Natalie Seehausen, whose daughter hosts their friend Elf on a Shelf each year at her house. Will the two elves will be back?

“We do plan to bring them back next year, under less difficult circumstances,” Colleen says. “They show up Friday after Thanksgiving and after Christmas eve they go home to the North Pole.”

The Garnette Gardens community is making spirits bright in 61 one and two-bedroom apartments for seniors. We also offer 16 memory care suites that provide a long-term option for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Care Suites round out the options, offering enhanced care for people recovering from surgery or illness.