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County going ahead with Chris Jensen renovations

St. Louis County is moving ahead with renovations at Chris Jensen Health and Rehabilitation Center to accommodate dementia patients. The project will eventually cost about $564,525 and will be able to house 31 to 39 residents. The dementia unit i...

St. Louis County is moving ahead with renovations at Chris Jensen Health and Rehabilitation Center to accommodate dementia patients.
The project will eventually cost about $564,525 and will be able to house 31 to 39 residents. The dementia unit is being built at Chris Jensen as part of the move to consolidate residents from Nopeming Care Center, which is scheduled to close in November.
The need to maintain a unit for residents needing that level of care was a major factor in the debate on whether to close Nopeming.
Tony Mancuso, county property management director, said the design stage of the project is on a fast track so bids can be let in July and construction can begin in August. He said the project has to be done by mid-November.
"We've gone through lots of different scenarios and explored several different options up at Chris Jensen," Mancuso said at Tuesday's county board meeting. "The Maple Wing was selected as the area to be remodeled."
The hallways will be air conditioned, though the rooms will not be, which Mancuso said is acceptable to the state. The lack of air conditioning at Nopeming was a regular warm weather complaint of staff and visitors.
When complete, the wing will have a 39-bed capacity with an extra room for isolation. The 22 residents still in the Maple Wing will be moved to the Elm Wing, which was emptied for painting and repairs.
In response to a question from Commissioner Dennis Fink regarding repairs at the facility, Mancuso said once the Maple Wing is ready to go, Elm Wing will be brought up to standards. However, the county does not have a capital improvement plan for the entire facility.
County Administrator David Twa said there has to be an outdoor recreation area that can be put in next year. He said in the long term there is about $500,000 of work that needs to be addressed, such as roof repairs and parking lot improvements.
The board voted to approve spending up to $76,625 with LHB Engineers and Architects for design work. The actual construction work, expected to cost about $489,900, will be paid for with a nursing home revenue bond issue in the fall.
In other action, the board followed up on the wishes of voters in Crane Lake and passed a resolution establishing the name and boundaries of Crane Lake Township. An organizational meeting will be held on June 18 at 7 p.m. at the Crane Lake Fire Hall, followed by the first township meeting.
In committee action, commissioners authorized a $600,000 grant application that could help provide treatment for homeless individuals who suffer from both mental illness and substance abuse disorders.
Social workers estimate the county has about 700 homeless, many of whom are in that situation because of those conditions.

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