Wheatcrest Hills of Britton celebrated its 50th anniversary on also spoke at the grand opening 50 years ago; Administrator Aug. 25. Taking part in the celebration at the local nursing LaVonne Furman; and original owners Bill Spiry and Dr. Lee home from left to right were former Governor Frank Farrar, who Johnson.
Wheatcrest Marks 50 Years
Wheatcrest Hills of Britton celebrated its 50th anniversary on Aug. 25.
Former Governor Frank Farrar, who spoke at the grand opening of the facility 50 years ago while serving as South Dakota’s Attorney General, was also a featured speaker 50 years later. Bill Spiry, one of the original owners, and Administrator LaVonne Furman also spoke.
It all began in the spring of 1966 when a group of people got together to discuss the possibility of constructing a nursing home. They formed a corporation and applied for a Small Business Administration loan. They were awarded $375,000 which then ran through the Britton Development Corporation.
That price tag translates to about $13 a square foot. Today the cost of new healthcare construction is $283 per square foot.
Construction began in April of 1967 and was complete in January of 1968. Bernie Wolfe was the first administrator and Murrial Andrews the first Director of Nursing. Currently Furman serves as administrator and Ada Mundt as the nursing director. In the 50-year history of the nursing home there have been six administrators and 10 Directors of Nursing.
In 1996 Marshall Manor was purchased by a group of five owners and many changes occurred in the 11 years that they owned it. The name was changed to Wheatcrest Hills and in 1997 the facility became Medicare-certified.
In 1999 the west hall was enclosed to form a Special Care Unit. In 2000 four large suites were added to the end of the south hall, and in 2001 all the halls and common areas were re-decorated.
The year 2002 brought a Hospice room furnished by Britton Area Hospice, and 2006 brought about a culture change where Wheatcrest Hills changed from being an institution to being a home. The same nursing staff now works each wing and become more like family to the residents.
In 2007, the facility was purchased by Mission Healthcare, a corporation headquartered in Edina, MN. With the purchase came computerized record keeping and medication administration and COMS (Clinical Outcomes Management Systems) which allows nursing staff to assess and evaluate more subtle changes and reduce hospital returns.
Along the way Wheatcrest employees were recognized for excellence. In 2008 South Dakota Healthcare awarded Furman the Administrator of the Year. In 2009 Sally Smith was named to Nursing Council of the Year, and in 2014 Joyce Smith was named Social Services Council of the Year.
In 2009, Wheatcrest Hills was given the Bronze Quality Award by American Healthcare Association, and in 2015 was 2015 was awarded the Silver Quality Award. These awards are a spinoff of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for performance excellence.
Mission Healthcare had a name change to Welcov Healthcare in 2012. Wheatcrest is a five-star facility awarded by CMS (Centers for Medicare/Medicaid) and is listed as #12 in the US News and World report of top nursing homes in SD. Wheatcrest has also been awarded the Eli Pick Leadership award from American College of Healthcare Administrators in each of the last five years. Only 11 percent of facilities nationwide are chosen for this award.
Furman’s goal is to continue to improve the Britton facility for the next 50 years.
“We have some very good things going on at Wheatcrest Hills and hope we can keep going for another 50 years. I would also like to thank the original owners for their forethought in creating our facility.”
Furman also stressed that maintaining a top facility is always a work in progress.
“Things change daily in the long-term care world – we are seeing more come in for therapy and then going home – it is a totally different world than it was 50 years ago,” said Furman. “But we have super staffing right now. They are very caring and compassionate, which is what we pride ourselves on. We do have a long ways to go building-wise, with updates on flooring and cabinetry. It is a work in progress.”