ARDEN HILLS, Minn. — Officials ceremoniously broke ground at a new assisted living facility in the north metro on Wednesday.
But along with the excitement comes some big hurdles to ensure the project's success and keep everyone safe in the age of COVID.
New Perspective is building right near Bethel University off Snelling Avenue and it plans to lay concrete as early as next month. It would be the group's 26th facility across the upper Midwest.
"We kept our residents safe, we kept our team members safe and we're going to have the same kind of protocols in place when we open this building," said New Perspective CEO Ryan Novaczyk.
The CEO says he's following state and federal guidelines during the pandemic, while also ensuring seniors who will live there can socialize safely amongst the amenities that include a heated pool, theater and dance hall.
"One of the biggest pitfalls of the pandemic has been isolation, and that has a huge impact on the health and well-being of our elderly population," said Novaczyk.
Bethel University leaders say they're hopeful the partnership with New Perspective provides students with potential employment opportunities, while encouraging the two generations to intermingle at sporting events and concerts.
"It keeps you young, and helps the students realize life is a long time, and to get the wisdom from another generation will be valuable," said Bethel University President Ross Allen.
The project isn't without hurdles. Challenges include labor shortages, supply chain issues and a new state law that went into effect on August 1, 2021. It requires these facilities now be licensed through the Minnesota Department of Health.
The change also requires more frequent inspections and new resident assessments.
A group that represents most of Minnesota's long-term care providers says COVID testing and vaccination plans can ensure the project's success too. Currently, 92% of residents and nearly 71.6% of staff are vaccinated across the state.
New Perspective says the new project should be finished by early 2023.