A Care Center Survival Story

On The Road

On the Road has brought you to Selby, SD where a community rallied to provide long-term care for Walworth County.

“We’re going to have a public meeting at the Selby School, and that’s on the future of the Selby Nursing Home.  And that night, when we walked into that building, it was like a full house in a basketball game.  It was electric and it was people wanted to know what’s going on,” said Dan Biel.  “Told him flat out, if we want to keep this open, we’re gonna have to raise $500,000 before the end of the year,” said Dan Biel. “And we had people giving us money before we left,” said Dan Biel. 

Long term care facilities are a critical quality of life component for any small town, and it is no secret, many of them have been closed in our area.  The town of Selby, in North-central South Dakota, faced a similar challenge. “During the summer of 2018, we heard a couple of rumblings that there was talk that the nursing home might be shutting down,” said Dan Biel.

Selby businessman Dan Biel, immediately took on a leadership role in the fight to help save it.  The meeting, held at the high school on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 was a cold dose of reality for all in attendance.  Current Selby Mayor, Vivian Witlock, doesn’t pull any punches.  “It would probably kill this town and would have been like all the other small towns around, where once you lose one business in town, it hurts, said Vivian Witlock.

She liked the momentum she witnessed that night. “We weren’t even ready for it, and people walked up to us with $20 bills and said, ‘Here, you know, this is all I can do, but you know, I want to keep this going.’, said Vivian Witlock.
Dianna Quaschnick, from Herreid, South Dakota, was also in attendance that night. “When I left, I had a good feeling that it was gonna work. But I can’t say that when I went into the meeting.  I had that feeling.  But when I left, I felt good,” said Dianna Quaschnick.
It was truly a scary time for many.  Dianna’s husband of 59 years, Gordon was a resident at the care center.  “I know there are a lot of prayers that went up for this place, that it would stay open, and that the people to rally around it,” said Dianna Quaschnick.
So, how does a town rally to save a care center that was originally dedicated way back on July, 5, 1964?  Of course, it involved raising money.  “We’ve got two choices: We’re either going to have to try to do it. Or we’re going to lose it.  So, you can give me whatever you want to give me for money, and it might be thrown away.  But, if you don’t give it, we’re for sure gonna lose it.  I mean, it’s, it’s that simple,” said Dan Biel.
The people stepped up, and decided to give. “The community just stepped up.  I mean, we had fundraisers.  We had huge donations that just came from everywhere.  You know, so it was amazing,” said Vivian Witlock. “It was Selby, Mobridge did fundraisers, Okaska did fundraisers, all the clubs did fundraisers, Java did a fundraiser, the staff did a huge fundraiser.  The staff brought in a magician and raised $25,000.” said Dan Biel.
Another critical component to saving the care center was keeping the current employees.  Without them, the money didn’t matter.  “Even though the community rallied financially, if the workers of this care center walked away, it was no more,” said Mike Huether. “That’s right,” said Dianna Quaschnick. “The workers were anxious to keep it going as well, and they are the ones that started that first fundraiser,” said Dianna Quaschnick.
“We were going to be done.  If they wouldn’t have stayed with us and we couldn’t promise them that they would be here six months.  We couldn’t promise that they’d be here a year.  We just said, ‘Wwe’re going to give it a shot, if you want to go for it.  Please stay with us.  We’ll raise the, do the best we can.  We want to make it work, but we can’t make it work without you.’.” said Dan Biel.
Because of the hard work, and yes, prayers of many, the Walworth County Care Center was established in October of 2018.  A 3-person non-profit board of directors, of which Dan Biel is the president, overseas the care center.  It is operating in the black.  “And now we’ve made it a year and two months, and we’re moving pretty good,” said Dan Biel. “It’s up to the people and their, their willingness and their generosity, all make a difference, and their willingness to work in the community makes a difference on keeping the community alive.  And having a care center is definitely a great asset,” said Dianna Quaschnick.
This 50-bed care center is fully utilized with residents like Gordon and families like his are so thankful for the care of the 60 employees that are there. “Because of the Walworth County Care Center we have longevity.  He is able to keep moving and keep you know.  I don’t know that he’ll ever get well, but at least he’s got, he’s able to enjoy what life he does have here,” said Dianna Quaschnick. “So thankful that there is a place where we can find comfort and care and, and good people to take care of you.  I mean, it’s like a family here,” said Dianna Quaschnick.
“Our first goal was to assure the residents, their families and the employees that we were going to get this done,” said Vivian Whitlock. “The employees just stayed with us until we, you know, actually had it up and going and like I said, we’re lucky we never missed a beat in the care,” said Vivian Whitlock. “Love it,” said Mike Huether.

The caring staff, the generous donors, the determined leaders and so many others rallied and got it done.  Over one million dollars has been raised to date, but this important work never stops. “The community wouldn’t let it close.  The helpers wouldn’t let it close. You know the workers and the residents didn’t leave us and they wanted it here.  So, everybody working together and pulling together can make a pretty strong team,” said Dan Biel.

The Walworth County Care Center is home to 50 residents who come from a radius of 60 miles, including West River.  It is a skilled care center, certified by Medicare/Medicaid and the staff there provide physical, occupational and speech therapy for the residents and yes, the community as a whole. 
If you’d like to support this community’s efforts. The Walworth County Care Center is a 501c3 non-profit organization and you can make a tax-deductible donation to W-C-C-C, 48-61 Lincoln Avenue in Selby, SD 57472. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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