Ave Maria is 50: Facility marking event throughout the yearThe current Ave Maria Village and Eventide at Hi-Acres back in 1960 were in the midst of a friendly competition among the Lutheran and Assembly of God churches to see which could finalize construction of its nursing home facility faster.
The current Ave Maria Village and Eventide at Hi-Acres back in 1960 were in the midst of a friendly competition among the Lutheran and Assembly of God churches to see which could finalize construction of its nursing home facility faster.
CEO and Administrator Tim Burchill enjoys having the bragging rights that Ave Maria, which was first known as Central Dakota Nursing Home, was the first to complete its facility.
Ave Maria Village is a care facility that specializes in skilled rehabilitation, nursing and healing with 100 nursing beds available, 10 of which are in private suites called “traditional care suites.”
“In the 1950s, there were no nursing homes within 100 miles of here,” said Burchill, who has been at Ave Maria for the past five years. “Thanks to the leadership of a great group of community members and businesspeople who asked the question ‘Where are they going to go?’ on behalf of a generation that was living longer than ever, we can now celebrate 50 years here.”
Burchill and the rest of Ave Maria Village are now excited to celebrate its 50th anniversary, which Burchill said the facility is doing through a series of events throughout the year.
“One of our biggest events is our concert (today) by Myron Sommerfeld,” Burchill said. “He’s really a legend in this party of the country and, in fact, his father spent some time at Ave Maria for a bit.”
Sommerfeld and the Music of the Stars Orchestra will perform the free-admission concert from 2 to 4 p.m. today featuring big band, country, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, waltz, polka, sing-a-long and patriotic music selections.
Burchill said the concert is just one way to help celebrate the 50th anniversary with residents and the community as well as show the progress of Ave Maria.
“We’ve come a long way over the years,” Burchill said.
Betty Brosz can attribute to that, having been a certified nursing assistant at Ave Maria for the last 47 years.
“It’s been like my second home,” Brosz said. “It’s been so nice getting to know so many people over the years from residents to administrators to colleagues.”
Brosz said the facility had just 60 employees when she first landed her position in 1965, but according to Burchill, Ave Maria now has more than 180 employees.
Brosz recently turned 80 years old and said her original wage was 95 cents per hour. Now, Burchill said, the average CNA earns anywhere from $14 to $15 per hour.
Burchill said staff members like Brosz are what make Ave Maria the facility it is today.
“It’s always a challenge to recruit high-quality staff but we feel like we’ve been very successful at that,” he said. “If you don’t have that high quality staff, then you really don’t have anything because it’s all about the people that provide the care to our residents.”
This year also marks the 10th anniversary for Sisters of Mary of the Presentation Health System, which has owned Ave Maria and four other long-term care facilities since 2002. SMPHS is a small, nonprofit health care system based out of Valley City, N.D., with corporate offices in Fargo.
“Just reading up on the history and looking at photos, I marvel at how things have changed in 50 years,” Burchill said.
Brosz, who said she has seen the evolution of the facility in her 47 years, said the care and attention paid to residents is as good now as it was back when the facility opened as Central Dakota Nursing Home.
“This place started with 100 beds and it remains that way today,” she said.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org