Weather Forecast


Building health in Richardton: Richardton breaks ground for new nursing home, health center

Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley speaks to the crowd at the groundbreaking for the Richardton Health Center.

RICHARDTON — Darla Kuhn, a dietary supervisor at Richardton Health Center, said her nursing residents and fellow employees form “one big family,” unlike any other in her life.

But, she said, the health center’s facilities are in dire need of an overhaul, something that residents are excited about.

Health care and state officials broke ground on Monday morning at the site of Richardton’s new $6.2 million nursing home and health care center. The project will be completed next summer, located at the northwest edge of Richardton, off of Highway 10.

Next year, Kuhn’s family will become a little bigger.The new health center have 19,000 square feet dedicated to a 24-bed skilled nursing home. Another 3,000 square feet will be used for a new health clinic, including three exam rooms and one procedure room.

The construction bidding process will open on Tuesday. Billings, Mont.-based Harrison G. Fagg and Associates have led the design process, Richardton Health Center board president Clare Messmer said.

About 80 people stood in an open field as the groundbreaking ceremony began, huddled together under blustery, overcast skies.

“Today is an exciting day,” said Megan Pritzl, administrator of the Richardton Health Care Center. “It’s also a cold, wet and rainy day.”

Joel Rude, president of Health Management Services, LLC, has aided in the center’s planning process. He thanked state rural development officials and others for their help in securing a $5.5 million federal loan during the past year.

“Rural health care is often the foundation of a community,” said Jasper Schneider, rural development director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “These projects don’t happen alone.”

Schneider said the large loan will be paid off in 40 years. Messmer said the Richardton

Healthcare Foundation has made great progress in raising an additional $700,000 from private donors to finish construction.

Mayor Frank Kirschenheiter thanked the Benedictine monks at Richardton Assumption Abbey for donating land for the Health Center, which they have owned for many decades. Kirschenheiter’s own mother is a nursing home resident, so he said he has been emotionally invested in seeing new facilities come to fruition.

Representatives from the offices of Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., as well as Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., recited letters of congratulation from the respective Congressional leaders.

In 2006, Richardton residents voted in favor of a 1 percent sales tax to support its then-financially embattled hospital. Rude said that vote, along with state legislation on long-term care facilities, has helped Richardton’s project come to fruition.

“There’s no question that North Dakota takes better care of its seniors than anywhere else,” Rude said.

Built in 1950, Richardton’s hospital became its retirement home in 2009, but has been found structurally inadequate for current standards of care, said Pritzl. Its occupancy is almost full and a waiting list has developed.

All rooms will be private and there will be larger common areas, according to project plans.

The current health center and clinic are across the street from each other on Third Avenue West in Richardton.