‘They’ve done an excellent job,’ St. Mark’s reopens Transitional Care Unit

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Don Opseth had a lot of good things to say about St. Mark’s Living Wednesday afternoon, just after cutting the ribbon on the grand reopening of the facility’s Transitional Care Unit (TCU).

Opseth, who calls St. Mark’s home and has gone through rehab twice at the facility, raved about staff after dedicating the ribbon-cutting to his late wife Joan.

“They’ve done an excellent job,” Opseth said. “I did rehab two different times and they know us by name. It is an excellent place and this is an excellent place to stay. My home. St. Mark’s.”

Email newsletter signup

It’s been about three years since staff shortages and the COVID-19 played an unfortunate hand in shutting down the unit. However, the TCU’s reopening is a breath of fresh air for St. Mark’s, and it’s yet another sign that things are trending in the right direction not long after the campus celebrated 60 years earlier this month.

St. Mark’s Living Executive Director Justin Boldt says a few words about the Transitional Care Unit grand reopening Wednesday afternoon. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“It’s a great feeling,” said St. Mark’s Executive Director Justin Boldt. “This was one of my goals to reopen it when I started here because at that time it had been closed for a year and it’s one of the nicest parts of our building.”

People come to St. Mark’s TCU unit for rehabilitation from injuries or other life-altering moments such as strokes.

But the campus had to make allowances during the time the COVID-19 pandemic laid siege on the nation. Many facilities like St. Mark’s struggled to retain staff.

However, during the 60th anniversary celebration, Boldt said that since the pandemic retention rates have increased up to 70% at St. Mark’s.

The nursing home is fully staffed and St. Mark’s remains mostly staffed in other areas, making it possible to begin reopening previously closed areas like TCU.

“It’s nice to check that off and reopen this to the community,” he said Wednesday.

Boldt went on to say that having the TCU open is a benefit not only to the community but St. Mark’s itself as it helps people get back to their lives both in Austin and within St. Mark’s itself. 

“It’s very convenient for people living here to have that option here,” he said.

While St. Mark’s residents and staff celebrate the reopening of the TCU, there is still more on the horizon Boldt hopes to bring online in the near future.

Currently, two pods in the memory care wing are open. He hopes that the third pod will hopefully be open in the first third of 2024.

“We’re still waiting for maybe two or three staff before we open that new wing,” Boldt said. “Hopefully by March 2024 we would be at full capacity.”