Changes at Riverside Villas in Pine River lead some residents to leave
Good Samaritan Society cites stress from COVID-19 pandemic on the senior care industry
Changes to services at Riverside Villas senior living in Pine River have stirred up some residents.
In an emailed statement, Good Samaritan Society Executive Director Mike Deuth's office said: "The pandemic has put unprecedented stress on the senior care industry, which has forced us to make difficult decisions about how and where we can provide services. As a result, Good Samaritan Society-Riverside Senior Living will no longer offer assisted living services effective December 1 due to a number of factors including ongoing staffing challenges and a decline in the number of residents receiving assisted living services at the location.
"We are fortunate that Riverside Assisted Living is located on the same campus and we are committed to ensuring a smooth transition for all of our residents and families," the statement said.
Riverside Villas resident Chloe Smith said the changes have impacted several services. She said the facility no longer has security personnel or maintenance services in addition to health care. When she first arrived in May, she said the facility offered one meal a day at no extra charge, but that increased to $100 a month in August and $125 as of December.
" There's no place close that has openings. If I could find a place, I'd be moving too and I really love my apartment. Everything was just right here and everything was covered."
— Chloe Smith.
Deuth's office declined a request for more information, including details on the changes and what services were still available at the apartments, as well as other facilities.
Smith and other residents are looking to more cost-effective options.
"We've got Meals on Wheels delivering to some of the people for the cost of a donation," Smith said. "That's just natural, but it won't cost us $125. That's really good for some of us that go that route."
Smith said she is concerned that with the lack of security or other staff on site, residents with mobility issues living on the second floor could be at higher risk in case of a fire or other emergency, including fall risks.
The emailed statement said that Good Samaritan Society still has facilities in town to serve those who need assisted living services, but some residents at the Riverside Villas apartments say they are not ready for that change. Riverside Villas has long provided a more independent lifestyle, which some residents thrive on.
Smith said there is a shortage of alternatives for those who wish to continue to live independently, but with some additional services, without committing to an assistance facility.
"There's no place close that has openings," Smith said. "If I could find a place, I'd be moving too and I really love my apartment. Everything was just right here and everything was covered."
Smith said nine people have moved out of the apartments, and others plan to find locations where they can receive assisted living services in an environment comparable to the Riverside Villas apartments.
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.