The city of Decorah will sponsor Aase Haugen Home's second application for a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to pay for an assisted living memory care center and rehabilitation units.

Don Wurtzel, Aase Haugen director of development, asked the Decorah City Council Monday night to be the applicant on behalf of the nursing home. The city applied for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Aase Haugen last year, which was unsuccessful.

"Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission, which has been assisting us, recommended we resubmit it. They think the chances are very good. Tonight is the first step in this process," Wurtzel said.

Wurtzel said the second application is "basically identical" to the first.

"We are not asking for any financial commitment from the city ... the city or the county has to serve as the official applicant. That's why we're coming to you," Wurtzel explained.

Aase Haugen is proposing to construct 12 new apartment units for memory care assisted living. The addition would be about 8,500 square feet. In addition, an existing 3,800-square-foot space will be renovated and converted to rehabilitative skilled nursing suites.

The project would increase the memory care assisted living capacity at the nursing home by 50 percent, in addition to providing short-term residents a place to focus on their rehabilitation goals.

It will be achieved in three phases: building the 12 new memory care assisted living apartments and moving the current memory care assisted living apartments (eight units) into the new apartment building, relocating eight assisted living apartments to former memory care assisted living apartments and renovating Aase Haugen's Valley Apartments into eight rehabilitative /therapy suites.

When completed it would result in all assisted living apartments -32 units in the same area and locate the new rehab/therapy suites close the rehab/therapy department.


Wurtzel said there is a growing need for patients recovering from procedures such as hip replacement who need a place to rehabilitate for four to eight weeks.

"With the completion of this new construction, Aase Haugen will possess a facility that more adequately meets the ever-expanding needs of residents diagnosed with early dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease. With the renovation, Aase will be able to provide specialized care for patients with rehabilitation needs in a designated area," a project description stated.

"With the creation of a designated rehabilitation area, residents who are utilizing Aase for short term or extensive rehabilitation will be allowed to focus more intensely on their recovery. Having a separate and distinct rehabilitation area will enable more specialized and individual care for residents in a peaceful environment with therapy and treatment, paired with rest and proper nutrition, as the key elements toward recovery."

Memory care assisted living serves individuals who do not qualify for standard assisted living, yet are not suited for the general nursing facility setting which tends to over stimulate/aggravate residents with dementia, according to the project description.

Meanwhile, residents using Aase Haugen Home for rehabilitation and short-term therapeutic services also have different needs that are not being completely met by having these residents stay with the general nursing facility.

The outcome of the grant will be announced by early April. There will also be a fundraiser to finance the balance of the project, with a goal of raising about $1 million.

"This is a great program. It will really upgrade Aase Haugen a lot. Thanks for doing it," Council member Julie Fischer commented.

"Good luck. I hope it goes through this time," Mayor Don Arendt said.

Aase Haugen Homes is a faith-based, non-profit organization providing health care for seniors and adults since 1915.