During the recent open house at Gundersen Tweeten Care Center, current administrator Michelle Borreson and first administrator Betty Benson take a little time to chat about their roles.
During the recent open house at Gundersen Tweeten Care Center, current administrator Michelle Borreson and first administrator Betty Benson take a little time to chat about their roles.

The roots of health care in Spring Grove began in 1916 when the Spring Grove Hospital was built. This hospital offered many services including surgery and infant delivery. As the building aged, the thoughts of a new facility became reality.

"When I was working at the old hospital it was tough because we had so little to work with, but I would go to the board and request items that we needed and they would approve it and let me buy it, they never denied my requests," commented Betty Benson. "When the new hospital was built we were so thrilled to have it. I remember walking down the hallway with a state survey team member and touching the wall and saying 'We are really here!' He replied to me, 'You said you'd do it and you did!' They [the state] were very happy we were in the new facility," Benson added with a smile.

Benson was the first administrator of the 20-bed hospital and 31-bed nursing home that opened in August of 1963. She was the director of nursing at the same time she was the administrator.

"It was a lot of work to do both things," remarked Benson. "I worked a lot of hours and always brought work home with me - the scheduling of everyone was always done at home. We did everything in those days including middle-of-the-night deliveries of babies."

The state surveyors told her that she couldn't continue to do both jobs, so she went to the board with that information and was allowed to hire a director of nursing.

"I had very good nurses and aides working for me," Benson said. "When the new facility was being built, I encouraged them to go over to it and look around and give their opinions on where they would like, things like baskets and cupboards so that it would work well for them. They were all so thrilled to have the new hospital that I don't think they ever billed me for those extra hours!"

Benson had input on the expansion of the facility as it added on different wings and the solarium/activities area. "I went to look around at the progress and I sat down in a chair as they were putting blocks up. The foreman was there and I told him that it wasn't going to work. He looked at me and said, 'why?' I said, come and sit down - no one will be able to see out the windows over that. He looked, agreed and fixed it!"

"Betty was always well-liked and respected by her employees and she cared about the residents and facility," commented current Gundersen Tweeten Care Center administrator Michelle Borreson. "She is a great role model to follow; I look up to her and hope to follow in her footsteps."

Borreson has a similar background to Benson. She was director of nurses at the Spring Grove facility for 10.5 years before becoming the administrator. She officially began her position as administrator of Gundersen Tweeten Care Center on June 10.

"This is a very exciting, albeit challenging, time in health care right now with the implementation of Obama-care," remarked Borreson. "Everything is more and more data driven. We have been working more closely with Gundersen as we both focus on less hospital readmissions after a patient has been in a nursing home. It is an exciting time. We have a new physician's assistant, Lesli Elsbernd, that is here a few days each week. She sees the residents and helps with the acute things and helps manage their care. It works very well."

Recently, Borreson has been focusing on sprucing up the building with new paint and deep cleaning. "Having a nice place to work and live really helps the morale of our employees and residents. It is a nice building and it is a goal of mine to keep it that way."

A lot of data is collected about the facility in a variety of ways. This data is given to the facility in a report so that they can examine how they are doing and if there are any areas that need improvement.

"We are looked at in many different ways. There is a state survey, a resident satisfaction survey where the state hires a company to interview the residents, family survey done by the state and an assessment that we regularly do of the residents," explained Borreson. "We want to have a culture of friendliness here. We are focusing on meaningful activities and individuality. We learned a lot about this from the speaker/author that we just hosted, Jolene Brackey."

Borreson has just begun her journey as the administrator at Gundersen Tweeten Care Center. "I am excited for this opportunity and to take on the challenges that we may have. I feel comfortable coming into this role with my staff and managers because I know they care for the residents; they are good advocates for the residents. I couldn't do it without them," she said. "I feel I understand what good healthcare looks like since I've been a nurse in this facility as well as other places. Having been a nurse here for more than 10 years, I feel I know the ins and outs as well, which will be beneficial to me as an administrator. I am looking forward to my journey here."

Borreson lives in rural Spring Grove with her husband, Mark. They have five children and one grandson.