Longhistory behind Stafholt

Published on Thu, Sep 23, 2004 by ack Kintner

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Long history behind Stafholt

By Jack Kintner

The Stafholt Good Samaritan Center will host its annual Founder’s Day celebration this Sunday, September 26 with an open house, refreshments and live entertainment from 2 until 4 p.m.

Stafholt opened in 1949 as the Icelandic Old Folks Home and joined the Good Samaritan Society in 1984. That agency, now the largest non-profit nursing home provider in the country, began 82 years ago with a pastor’s appeal on behalf of a young polio victim in his congregation whose family couldn’t afford care.

“His name was August Hoeger,” said Kari Johnson-Dick, Stafholt’s administrator, “and the little boy was in his Arthur, North Dakota, congregation.”

He needed to go to Missouri for treatment but few in the rural congregation just west of Fargo had much to spare. Still, Hoeger asked each member of his congregation for two cents each, and ended up with a $2,000 surplus once the word got around to neighboring congregations about the boy’s need.

“They used the money to begin a home for disabled boys in a six-room farmhouse,” said Johnson-Dick. Care was extended to include older people as well within a few years, and the agency grew to now include 240 facilities in 25 states.

The day celebrates both the Good Samaritan Society and Stafholt, which moved into its present building at 456 C street in 1991. “We’re beginning to develop plans to re-model the special care unit for Alzheimer’s Disease patients,” said Johnson-Dick, “which we’ll call the west wing.” She explained that one of the features will be a wandering alert system that will allow for the doors to be unlocked.
Entertainment at the open house will feature an appearance by the Reverend Don Walter. For more information contact Stafholt at 332-8733.