December 2021 Newsletter

Reflecting on Gratitude- Candas Schouvieller, Administrator

Every year the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce recognizes one large business and one small business for Business of the Year. We are touched and humbled by our community selecting Oak Hills Living Center as 2021 Large Business of the Year! We had the honor of being Grand Marshal in the annual Parade of Lights on Friday, November 26th. What a wonderful recognition for those that have given so much to care for the most vulnerable.

This past year has been tough on everyone and the residents at Oak Hills have had to sacrifice so much, while our staff continue to put others before themselves. Recently, the CDC and MDH changed guidelines for skilled nursing facilities so we can now open our doors to visitors regardless of outbreak status. We have been fortunate to have very low exposure in the recent months and continue to test staff and residents twice weekly who have not been vaccinated.

The vaccine mandate will go into effect on December 6th for skilled nursing facilities. This means our staff will need to have their first vaccine by December 6th or have applied for a medical or religious exemption. We continue to educate our staff and residents on the COVID-19 vaccine however, we want people to feel comfortable with their choice. As you can imagine, this is a huge concern for us in regards to staffing. We’ll continue to keep you updated on our staffing levels as we do all that we can to ensure the health and safety of our residents. Thank you so much for all your support, we are grateful for every act of kindness shown to us yesterday, today and tomorrow!

Let’s Talk Staffing – Nicole Blekestad, Director of Human Resources

You have been hearing about our staffing levels for a very long time. Currently, our total employee count is 265. Full staff should be 275. In September, we increased wages for our dedicated staff, those who commit to working a specific block of time. This change allowed us to hire 14 additional staff in September and 3 in October. How do we fill these open shifts? Our dedicated and casual staff members pick up extra shifts, or extend their shift from 8 hours to 12 hours, and occasionally we contract with pool nursing agencies to cover key positions like overnight nurses. However, pool nursing agencies are very expensive and there is no guarantee we will find the right person for the current need.

Oak Hills is a great place for anyone who wants to start a career in healthcare. Many of our staff start in dietary, train as nursing assistants and then go on to college for LPN or RN. We provide all of the necessary training for dietary and nursing assistants and provide a scholarship for staff who go onto nursing school. Currently, there are 12 staff on the scholarship program. Those scholarship recipients continue to work at Oak Hills for 10 hours per week while attending their college programs.

On November 22, 2021, Tammy Hoffmann celebrated her 15 year work anniversary. Tammy began her career at Oak Hills in dietary, nurses aide, trained medication aide (TMA) and catering. She furthered her education with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and is now our Licensed Assisted Living Director. Thank you, Tammy, for your dedication to Oak Hills Living Center!

Paycheck Protection Program- Candas Schouvieller, Administrator

This past year Oak Hills received funds through the Paycheck Protection Program loan (PPP). This money was much needed to help offset the extra expenses that came with COVID. I had mentioned in an article in the New Ulm Journal last month that nursing homes were notified that the 2022 care center rates would be offset due to receiving these funds.

For Oak Hills, that would have meant we would have taken approximately a 3.6% decrease in the 2022 rates. After months of advocacy from Leading Age Minnesota members, several lawmakers helped bring attention to this issue and pushed for change. This was a big win for care center providers, many of whom were concerned about a rate decrease for 2022, during an ongoing pandemic and in the middle of severe labor crisis.

Gutes Essen Deli and Catering- Jessica Weisbrich, Director of Nutrition Services

The Holiday season brings families together to reconnect over great meals and treats. We continue to manage supply chain issues that impact our ability to provide additional meals beyond the needs of our residents. Our focus is residents and providing them with plenty of special Holiday meals and treats!

Our freezer meal program continues to be on hold throughout December. At this time we will plan to offer freezer meals again on January 1, 2022. Thankfully, we were able to receive the supplies needed for Holiday baking and our Christmas cookie tray orders posted on November 26, 2021.

The best place to stay updated on Gutes Essen Deli & Catering is our Gutes Essen Deli & Catering and Oak Hills Freezer Meals Facebook pages. Our daily menu’s are updated on our website,

Resident Activities – Rachal Becker, Recreation & Wellness Director

December is our busiest time of the year for activities at Oak Hills. From decorating for Christmas, to our neighborhood Christmas parties, and special entertainment we enjoy the season! We are grateful for the changes to CDC guidelines so we can again have church services and visitors in resident rooms. Unfortunately, we are unable to have families at activities with residents.

Highlights of activities for December include, our library program, where residents can checkout books with their own library cards, bingo (of course!), social hour, and our assisted living residents will go on a light tour in our bus! You can now follow our activity schedule on our website, Simply click the “Activities Calendar (PDF)” to download the schedules from each neighborhood. Follow Oak Hills Living Center on Facebook for important announcements!

Giving to Oak Hills – Wendy Lang, Fund Development Director

In early November, the Foundation mailed our annual giving campaign letter. You can give to unrestricted or specific fund areas.

We use EZ- Stand lifts to safely transfer residents. Each lift costs approx. $5,700.00. By 2024, we will need to replace 8 lifts. Your annual gift helps us to meet this resident need. Thank You!

Be sure to follow Oak Hills Memorial Foundation on YouTube for updates on the 2022 capital campaign- Growing Our Tomorrow!


Heartland Express will resume charging for rides on January 3rd, 2022.

Each token costs $1.30 when purchased at the Oak Hills Living Center front desk.

Pay by cash or trust account.

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