Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

New administrator of Augustana settles into her role

Local returns to her roots to manage the Augustana/Cassia Care facility


Shawna Smith felt like she was coming home when she accepted the position of administrator of Augustana/Cassia Care in Moose Lake two months ago.

“I was born and raised in Cromwell,” she said in a recent interview. “My parents, Ken and Sue Kovisto, used to own Town and Country Furnishings in Moose Lake in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I worked there when I was in high school.”

After she graduated from Cromwell High School, Smith went to the College of St. Scholastica and earned a Bachlor's degree in management with a focus on Heathcare and Human Resources. She worked for a few years and then took classes in continuing education at the University of Minnesota in administration, she said.

“My first job was at Bayshore Care Center on Park Point in Duluth,” she recalled. “I wanted to make sure that that track was the one that I wanted to pursue.”

She obtained her administrator's license while continuing to work at Bayshore.

Smith went to Two Harbors to work in a nursing home for a period of time, and then went back to Bayshore.

“It was all for the same company,” she explained. “And then I started a home care agency in Duluth for the same company. I went back to Bayshore to help them out a little bit and then I went to Grand Rapids to Grand Village. I worked there almost five years as an administrator.”

Smith's career journey took her to Essentia Health for two years, where she spent six months in Virginia and the rest of the time in Deer River.

During all of that time, Smith continued to live in Cromwell.

“It was a really nice experience,” she said. “I loved Deer River but spending an hour and 20 minutes one way commuting to work gets old.”

An hour each way in her commute was cut when she came to Moose Lake. But Smith found more than just two hours of extra time each day.

“It is nice to have a sense of community,” she said. “I really didn't know anybody in those other places. It was so nice to come to the 4th of July parade. We took the residents to the parade. It ended up being a real nice day.”

Smith has praise for the Augustana/Cassia Care facility in Moose Lake.

“I've seen a lot of nursing homes,” she said. “This is one of the good ones. But, like the other nursing homes, we are having a problem with staffing.”

She explained that the nursing home is hiring people and training them in CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) classes to solve the staffing problem.

“We hire them and pay for the class,” she explained. “The class last two weeks, 80 hours.”

Smith explained that there have been classes in June and more classes in July. There will also be one in August.

“We will keep running the class until we have enough people to do the job,” she said.

Smith sees the staff as a family.

“We are a family here,” she said. “If there is a problem, we work it out together.”

Augustana Care has merged with Elim Care and has become Cassia Care.

“It takes time to work out the kinks,” said Smith. “But we are working towards that. Cassia Care will become more formal around the first of the year.”

The care center in Moose Lake includes long-term care, short-term care, assisted living and rehabilitation care. Oakview is the name of the assisted living homes.

“When I am a senior, I hope that Oakview is available to me,” said Smith. “It is great to be included and it is important for the family.”

In her personal life, Smith and her husband, Pete, have six children, ages 15 to 21, between them.

“He had three and I had three,” Smith explained. “We have a hectic household. It was really nice that two hours has been added back into my day since I’m not commuting such long distances anymore.”

Meanwhile, Smith enjoys being home again.

“There is a feeling of home,” she said. “There are all of those elements that make a home. It is a comfort and a loyalty.”


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