"A Dance To Remember" at Ecumen Detroit Lakes

Laughter and stories of 50 years of memories filled the Detroit Lakes Pavilion June 20 as more than 300 residents, family, friends, volunteers and employees gathered for "A Dance to Remember." The event, celebrating 50 years of service at Ecumen Detroit Lakes, featured food, beverages, music, dancing, classic cars and beach volleyball.

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Fifty Years of Transformation at Ecumen Detroit Lakes

 The 50-year history of Ecumen Detroit Lakes is a compelling story of transformation from nursing home to state-of-the-art community health care hub.  Detroit Lakes Online tells the story of how in 1964 a community in dire need of a long-term care center pulled together, going door-to-door to raise the money.  Now, a half century later, Ecumen Detroit Lakes is evolving into a national model for rural healthcare delivery.  On June 20, Detroit Lakes will celebrate this story of civic involvement as it prepares for the next 50 years with the opening of the new Ecumen care center this fall.

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Ecumen Parmly LifePointes Prepares for 19th Annual Golf Tournament

Ecumen Parmly LifePointes’ 19th Annual “Swingin’ for Parmly” golf tournament will take place on June 19 at Chisago Lakes Golf Course.

Each year community members, staff, partner companies and volunteers enjoy a day of golf to raise money for Ecumen Parmly LifePointes. Pictured below are participants from last year's event. This year, the proceeds will go towards buying a utility truck and snowplow that will be used to maintain the grounds.

Registration for the tournament will close June 16th. Please visit parmly.org for more information on registration and details. Contact Mara Krinke (651-257-7956) or Michelle Metzler (651-213-2744) with questions.

Anne Diekmann, Director of Nursing, Ecumen of Litchfield

Ecumen Receives Shavlik Family Foundation Grant for Technology at New Detroit Lakes Center

The Shavlik Family Foundation has awarded Ecumen an $11,750 grant to bring the latest digital technology to seniors at its new aging services hub in Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Construction currently is underway for an addition to Ecumen Detroit Lakes designed to transform how senior support services are provided in the area. The project, called The Commons, is envisioned as an innovative "one-stop aging services hub” that integrates technology, socialization, fitness, nutrition and health care to help keep seniors in rural Becker County healthy and independent.

The new addition, expected to open in late summer or early fall, will include a therapy center with a hydrotherapy pool, a wellness center with a bistro, a telehealth center and a business center.  The Shavlik Family Foundation grant will help equip the business center.

The business center will offer seniors in the community access to user-friendly technology including high-speed Internet service and other digital and electronic resources such as email access and Skype, iPads, touch-screen computers, wireless printers, as well as faxing, scanning and copying equipment. The center will serve the entire Detroit Lakes and surrounding area, not just residents of the campus.

“We view The Commons approach as a prototype for how senior services will be delivered in rural areas in the future,” said Janet Green, executive director of Ecumen Detroit Lakes.   “We are so grateful to the Shavlik Family Foundation for understanding the critical importance of technology in helping seniors age in place and stay connected to the community.”

The Shavlik Family Foundation, of White Bear Lake, Minn., was started by Rebecca and Mark Shavlik with part of the proceeds from the acquisition of their company Shavlik Technologies in 2011, and “recognizes that access to information and technology is a basic need in our modern society and created the Foundation to provide grants to Minnesota-based non-profits to enhance access to and knowledge of technology for non-profits and the people they serve.”

Green said the hub will be a place for people in the community “to learn and have fun,” as well as a place to come for healthcare services.  Although seniors are expected to be the primary users, she said  the hub will have programs that cross generations.

“We have to reinvent how we care for seniors, especially in rural communities,” Green said. “Using the hub concept and the latest technology we plan to create an environment where seniors can find all the services they need to stay healthy and live independently in their homes — and stay connected to the community.”


Senior man and woman having coffee at table seen through window

Ecumen Detroit Lakes Receives Grant to Advance Its Dementia-Friendly Work

Ecumen Detroit Lakes is among 12 Minnesota organizations receiving grants through ACT on Alzheimer’s to help create more dementia-friendly communities.

ACT on Alzheimer’s is a volunteer-driven, statewide collaboration preparing Minnesota for the personal, social and budgetary impacts of Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are 88,000 Minnesotans age 65 and older with the disease and many thousands more with other dementias.

“As the population of Minnesota ages, it’s becoming increasingly important to build support systems for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s,” said Olivia Mastry, executive lead for ACT on Alzheimer’s and also an Ecumen board member. “Some of the most exciting innovations will emerge from this community work.

“Creating dementia-friendly communities means that caregivers are supported and people with dementia are able to live in the community and stay out of institutional care longer,” Mastry said.  “That helps everyone – families and taxpayers who pay for institutional care, employers who have workers trying to balance all the demands of caregiving, and the individuals themselves.”

Janet Green, executive director of Ecumen Detroit Lakes, said:  “We have a long history of supporting community members with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, and this generous grant gives us the ability to even further enhance our programs.  What a wonderful recognition in our 50th anniversary year serving the Detroit Lakes community.”

Green said Ecumen Detroit Lakes has had Alzheimer’s support groups for more than 15 years, and started its memory care community more than 20 years ago.  “We have a strong commitment to this work and have been in the forefront dealing with dementia care,” Green said.  “This grant will allow us to take our work to an even higher level.”

Ecumen Detroit Lakes was part of the initial round of grant recipients and initially will receive $5,800 to implement support programs.  The amount could grow to $18,000 based on the success of the programs.  For a list of communities receiving grants go to this link.

Ecumen Detroit Lakes’ grant is funded through Blue Plus (an HMO affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota), the Medica Foundation and Greater Twin Cities United Way.

More than 60 organizations are partners in ACT on Alzheimer’s.  More information is available at www.actonalz.org

Ecumen Detroit Lakes Cited by Gov. Dayton for Its Worksite Wellness Program

Ecumen Detroit Lakes recently was recognized as one of the initial participants in the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Year of Worksite Wellness program.

At a recent kickoff event, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton issued a proclamation declaring 2014 as the “Year of Worksite Wellness” and mention Ecumen Detroit Lakes among a group of model employers already actively engaged in creating healthy workplaces.  Among others called out for special mention were LifeTime Fitness, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and The Schwan Food Company.

Janet Green, executive director of Ecumen Detroit Lakes, said her campus has been engaged in a number of initiatives to support staff wellness including office exercise programs, fitness challenges, healthy food options and a quit-smoking program.  She said the campus will be going totally smoke-free June 1, 2014.  (Currently there are designated outside smoking areas.)

“We value our employees, and we want to do all we can to help them stay healthy and fit,” Green said, pointing out that Ecumen’s company-wide “Wellness Works” program is a foundation supporting many of the Detroit Lakes activities.

Workplace wellness is a growing movement according to Susan Bishop, Minnesota Department of Health Worksite Wellness Planner. “Businesses are excited about worksite wellness for two very good reasons,” Bishop says. “First, employers care about their employees. They are your friends and neighbors, and we all want the people in our lives to be strong and healthy. Second, it saves money.” Bishop points out that poor employee health is correlated with an over 50 percent decrease in overall productivity, costing companies nationally an estimated $225.8 billion annually, or $1,685 per employee per year.

MDH is involved in worksite wellness in several areas, including through the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). SHIP works to improve health by encouraging healthier eating, more physical activity and avoiding commercial tobacco use and exposure. SHIP works with local public health agencies to make healthy choices more available to more people. Throughout the state, local SHIP staff are available to help businesses with their own wellness programs. More information about SHIP can be found at http://www.health.state.mn.us/ship, and worksite efforts at http://www.health.state.mn.us/worksite.

The First Openly Gay Generation Moves Into Its Elder Years

We like to think of ourselves as a society that respects our elders. Right?

But what if those elders are gay?

The first generation of Americans to live openly gay in large numbers is now moving into old age. Two items recently caught our attention on LGBT elders encountering prejudice and discrimination rather than honor and respect they deserve.

Minneapolis Star Tribune Columnist Gail Rosenblum tells about the struggles some LGBT elderly are facing as they move into senior living communities, both from staff and other residents. Rosenblum’s column is a preview to the screening of “Gen Silent,” a documentary about the unique challenges of six older members of the LGBT community trying to navigate the healthcare system. “It is a reminder,” Rosenblum writes, “that not everybody is receiving safe, quality and equal care as they age.”

Coincidentally, the Columbia University School of Public Health just issued a study documenting that LGBT people tend to die earlier in communities where citizens are less accepting of same-sex relationships. In communities with high anti-gay stigmas life expectancy of gays is shortened by as much as 12 years.

In another twist, the study’s lead author found in an earlier study that straight people with high levels of anti-gay prejudice died about three years earlier than straight people without strong anti-gay prejudice.

The study concludes: “The findings contribute to a growing body of research suggesting that reducing prejudice may improve the health of both minority and majority populations.”

Honor, especially in elder services, does not discriminate.

Ecumen Detroit Lakes Fundraising Effort Leads To $50,000 Otto Bremer Foundation Matching Grant for New Short-Stay Rehab

Ecumen Detroit Lakes, now undergoing a major remodeling and expansion, recently celebrated receiving a $50,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation to match the more than $50,000 it raised in the local community.

Since the campus is also observing its 50th anniversary in 2014, the celebration event was named “50-50-50 Charity Benefit” and brought the community together to fundraise through sponsorships, donations and a silent auction.  In addition to the $50,000 matching grant, Bremer has also donated another $25,000 toward the project, bringing their total contribution to $75,000. 

Ecumen Detroit Lakes Executive Director Janet Green thanked the donors and participants for their support, announced that the $50,000 goal had been met and accepted a $50,000 ceremonial check from Ron Mueller, president of the Detroit Lakes Bremer Bank. 

The money will go to help build a new short-stay rehabilitation and wellness center that has been under construction since September 2013 and is expected to open in August 2014.  The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation is the lead grant funder, with a $3 million contribution, and Ecumen is investing $8 million in the project.

The project is a key component of what is envisioned as an innovative "one-stop aging services hub” that integrates technology, socialization, fitness, nutrition and health care to help keep seniors in rural Becker County healthier and independent. The new addition will include a therapy center with a hydrotherapy pool, a wellness center with a bistro, a telehealth center and a yoga room. The project also includes updating other areas of Ecumen Detroit Lakes campus, including the installation of new carpet and flooring and upgrading of bathrooms to better meet the care needs of residents.

“This project is preparing us for the next 50 years,” Green said. “We’re going to be able to serve people better and differently.”