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Kevin Gish chosen as administrator of new Bemidji Veterans Home

As progress continues on the new Bemidji Veterans Home, set to open in 2023, Kevin Gish has been selected as the facility's administrator.

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Kevin Gish
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BEMIDJI — With the opening of the new Bemidji Veterans Home in sight, the project announced an exciting step forward with the selection of an administrator for the facility.

Kevin Gish, originally from Mahnomen, is a Bemidji State University graduate with over a decade of experience in administration, has joined the project and is now in the process of filling out the rest of his team.

“I’ll be putting out an offer to my director of nursing candidate, who will be my lead partner in all this process, and then we have applications out for our facilities manager and our business operations manager,” Gish said. “It’s all a very deliberate process and timeline up to our planned opening.”

After over a decade of gathering local support, the project was first granted state funding in 2018, and an official groundbreaking ceremony was held in August 2021.

Estimated to cost $45.5 million, the facility will house 72 private living quarters for veterans and certain members of their families who require skilled nursing care.

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The facility has already received well over 100 applications for residents since the process opened in September, and the hope is for the home’s doors to open in August 2023.

“Things may change, we may see a delay due to weather or the supply chain. There’s unforeseen (challenges), but that’s the goal,” Gish said.

The biggest challenge that he anticipates facing as the opening date approaches is filling the facility’s staffing needs, particularly for skilled nursing professionals.

“Staffing is the elephant in everybody’s room right now,” Gish shared. “You drive anywhere in Bemidji and there’s signs saying ‘We’re hiring.’ Which is great if you’re looking for a job, but not so much if you’re an employer.”

Gish hopes, however, that the veterans home will be an attractive employer, and has also been working on forging partnerships with local universities and colleges to create a pipeline from education to employment.

Those interested in applying can do so at mn.gov/mdva/homes/bemidji.

Another draw that Gish sees, both for himself and others who might apply, is working and supporting the area's veterans.

Several members of his family have served in the military, and he’s seen the importance of services and programs designed to support veterans.

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“The military is not far from my family. My dad was a marine, my brother is in the Navy, and I’ve had lots of uncles who served in World War II and Korea,” Gish explained. “I’ve gotten to see how important it is to have these resources and these homes for veterans.”

One of the aspects of his new position he is most looking forward to is getting to know the veterans he’ll be serving.

“I’m looking forward to this entire process of getting the building open, and then once we have veterans in our facility I’m excited to get to know them, and their families and their stories,” he said. “I think it will be very impactful professionally and personally.”

Gish also shared his gratitude for the level of support the veterans home has received from the community, and how it’s made everything possible.

“(The Bemidji Veterans Home) has just received so much support, and we can feel that as we’re working toward it,” he shared. “Once we have veterans living in the home, I think that’s when it will really sink in, the magnitude of what this project is.”

Two other veterans homes are also being built, one in Preston and another in Montevideo. Progress on all three homes can be tracked on the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs website, including information on careers and an option for a newsletter.

Related Topics: VETERANSBEMIDJI
Nicole Ronchetti is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on local government and community health.
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