Despite award, Rifle care center needs help
In just a few months, Grand River Hospital District taxpayers will likely be asked to vote on whether to replace the E. Dene Moore Care Center. It was recently named one of the top senior care centers in the state, despite being limited by an aging building and infrastructure. Currently only one out of five applicants is accepted, though 90 percent of its residents come from the district.
On July 6, the care center was one of two Colorado nursing homes to receive the Silver Achievement in Quality Award by the National Center for Assisted Living.
Now it seeks support for a $90 million bond to bring the center up to date.
It was built in 1967 and has not received additional support from the taxpayers since the original mill levy, according to Angie Densley, director of nurses at the center.
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“We haven’t asked for help from residents since it was built, but we’ve reached the limitation of the building,” she said.
Engineers indicate that the 50-year-old building has reached end of its life span. Plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems are obsolete, and a recent flood in the basement required $500,000 to repair and six months of work, according to the bond proposal fact sheet.
Homeowners within the district would pay $34 per $100,000 of assessed value if the bond were passed. The term of the bond would be 20 years, with the repayment plus interest totaling $154 million. The mill levy would cease to exist once the bond is paid.
While $154 million would be a significant investment for the community, the new care center would meet a number of growing needs.
The number of beds would double with a new facility, increasing from 50 to 90-100, which would allow each resident to have a private room with a window. There is currently a waiting list for rooms with windows, and residents must double up in each room.
“The demand for our services has skyrocketed,” Grand River Health Chief Executive Officer James Coombs said in a press release. “Over the past three years Grand River’s medical staff has grown in both primary care providers and specialists. … In the last few months Grand River has had to transfer patients to other facilities, not because Grand River couldn’t take care of them, but because there wasn’t space.”
The care center has had to put employees’ family members on waiting lists because of demand. More than 200 applicants are turned away each year.
The new care center would include a new memory care and Alzheimer’s unit, which the current facility lacks. Forty percent of the current residents have dementia, according to Kenda Spalding, administrative director of long-term care at the center.
“Folks here do a fantastic job for families that live here,” said Pat Thrasher, whose family member has been in the long-term care center for four years. “The effort everybody makes to ensure that this feels like home and part of the larger community is essential.”
A criterion for the quality care award is integration to the larger community.
“Silver award recipients are champions of performance excellence and quality health care outcomes,” NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson said in a press release. “I commend their dedication to delivering solutions for quality care to the populations they serve.”
The care center advanced to the silver despite an aging infrastructure that includes 50-year-old sprinklers, one of which shattered in February and flooded Spalding’s office within minutes.
“They’ve really outgrown this facility,” said Richard Lindow, who has been a resident at the care center for eight years. “They really treat mind, body and spirit here with all that staff does. All we need is a new building.”
With outings around town or inviting members of the community to spend time and enjoy activities with residents, nurses and administrative staff are constantly looking for ways to improve the lives of residents despite the limited space, Spalding said. Riding Institute for Disabled Equestrians allows residents to ride horses in Silt despite physical limitations, and nurses often bring in therapy dogs for patients.
Densley said the staff tries to treat the source of the problem, not just by masking the symptoms with medications. In fact the care center excelled in low use of anxiety medications in the quality award.
While the new facility would offer more space for residents, it would also create more space for the hospital, something it desperately needs.
The bond also would cover an expansion at Grand River Hospital to double existing capacity from 12 beds to 25, and would convert existing beds to private rooms, which would allow for 13 additional inpatient rooms. It would also include additional ICU beds and new technologies and services such as cardiac rehab.
Currently the care center does the laundry for the entire hospital, washing around 30,000 pounds of laundry a month in just two washers and dryers. There is a load in from 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily, according to staff. An expansion to the care center and Grand River Hospital would allow for all laundry to be done at the hospital, so the care center could remain focused on patient care.
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Bridges High School graduates took part in a special ritual for their ceremony, each placing a rock in the center of the ring as their names and a few words were read.