New Richardton Nursing Home on track to open its doors in May

RICHARDTON -- The new Richardton Nursing Home is nearing completion. Replacing the old nursing home near Assumption Abbey on the north end of town, the new $6.2 million, 24-bed facility west of the town along Highway 8 is looking at a tentative c...

The new Richardton Nursing Home is expected be completed by May 1. (Sydney Mook/The Dickinson Press)

RICHARDTON - The new Richardton Nursing Home is nearing completion.

Replacing the old nursing home near Assumption Abbey on the north end of town, the new $6.2 million, 24-bed facility west of the town along Highway 8 is looking at a tentative completion date of May 1.

“Going over here, I anticipate that we will fill all 24 of those beds right away, because we have a waiting list at the moment,” said Marilyn Rippy, the director of nursing for the

Richardton Health Center, which includes the nearby Richardton Health Clinic.

The project, which is being built by Scull Construction and was designed by Montana-based HGFA Architects, is more than three years in the making, with delays that have reportedly left the community wondering if it would materialize at all.


Michael Burke, the architect of the project, said he was pleased with how far it has come along.

“Everything’s kind of worked out, timing-wise,” he said.

He explained some features the building would have, such as a living room setting at the entrance and even a beauty parlor for the residents to use.

“It’s a great sight already,” Burke said.

Clare Messmer, the president of Richardton Health Center board of directors, explained that the new facility has a more convenient setup in that most of the rooms are private, with one bed each.

The old 20-bed facility, which was originally constructed in the 1950s as the Richardton Hospital, is set up mostly with double-bed suite rooms, two of which share a bathroom.

Messmer said this causes issues when trying to fill an empty bed, as the person has to be of the same sex of the others that inhabit the suite.

Due to the old facility’s construction make-up, Messmer said it is “not conducive to remodeling.”


The new facility is spacious, with wide halls and open areas where residents can congregate. It will even feature a bathing suite, to which the team wants to give a homey feel by adding furniture.

In Rippy’s words, they want it to be “spa-like.”

The nursing home is already preparing for the transition in May. Rippy said she had recently spoken to some laundry personnel who were wondering if they would have to learn “a whole new system” at the new facility.

“I think that’s the highest anxiety, is just the unknown,” she said.

On moving day, Messmer and Rippy said they are organizing things to make the residents’ transition as smooth as possible.

Residents will be loaded into a van and driven over, where all their furniture and personal items will be waiting for them in their new rooms.

“Their transition should be very seamless,” Messmer said.

Rippy said friends and families of residents will also be invited to help move objects from one location to another. The decision to build a brand new nursing home came in 2012, when Messmer said the board put in a fundraising effort to update the old structure.


New paint, flooring and artwork was added to try to make it more visually appealing and comforting.

In the end, though, Messmer said it just didn’t work as planned.

“It’s still a 1950s building,” she said. “It feels like a hospital when you walk in there.”

That, along with the gender acceptance limitations of the suites then led to the decision to start again from scratch.

“It was kind of a leap of faith,” Messmer said. “A lot of sleepless nights after that.”

Donations were sought after from the community. Messmers said it was a long process, applying for a $5.5 million loan from the USDA, which was granted in 2013.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the nursing home was held in June 2014, Even then, however, the Richardton Health Center held off on building because construction bids came in too high during the height of the oil boom.

Eventually, the directors were able to secure Scull at-risk, where a construction manager posts a maximum price guarantee and works from there. Construction began in July 2015.

Donations eventually come as well. From residents to businesses, Messmer and Rippy said the whole community participated in making the project a reality.

There is a wish to one day adjoin a new Richardton Health Center to the new nursing home, but Messmer explained that they could not secure funding or a loan at the moment.

This will create a slight inconvenience to those residents who will have to make trips to the existing one near the old facility.

Messmer said the construction of this facility is a validation to the community of its promise. She described the amount of time spent asking for donations from the town, when the project was on hold.

“I think the community now sees and believes,” Messmer said.

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