New Grand River Health Care Center in Rifle resembles vacation resort

The "town square" inside the new E. Dene Moore Care Center in Rifle. Chelsea Self / Post Independent

When nursing home residents were recently given a tour through what resembles a posh shopping mall, fashioned with various amenities like a spa, cafe and even a pub, they were taken aback.

“You had residents who were just in tears for what it meant to them,” Grand River Care Center Administrator Chavien Paget said. “You had a resident who said, ‘I finally got my own bathroom.'”

The new, state-of-the-art Grand River Care Center, set to welcome a transfer of residents from the next door E. Dene Moore Care Center in early February, also changed the outlook of another senior tourist.

“We had an 88-year-old resident who has been told she’s kind of on the last stretch of her life and has kind of said, ‘I don’t want to be living any longer,'” Paget said. “But after coming through here she told our staff, ‘I don’t want to die anymore.'”

A co-mingling and eating area inside the new E. Dene Moore Care Center in Rifle. Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Every day over the past week has seen between 10-12 public tours given through the new 103,000 square-foot facility on E. Fifth Street, which is nearing completion in large part thanks to a mill levy and $89.4 million bond issue passed in 2017 and slated to retire by 2028.

Part of that bond issue would go toward the new 100,000 square-foot addition now seen at Grand River’s Rifle hospital, while about $43 million was set aside for the new care center.

Before full project completion, however, the community will say goodbye to the E. Dene Moore Care Center, which has been serving the community since its 1968 opening. Equipped with skilled nurses and various therapy options, it catered to full-time residents and temporary patients.

Once given high acclaims from U.S. News & World Report, the Rifle nursing home is outdated, said Paget. The current 27,000 square-foot facility holds 50 rooms, many of which have two residents living in one 200-square-foot space. Each bathroom is shared by two rooms.

The real eye-opener, however, came in 2016, Grand River Health Community Relations Director Annick Pruett said. A downstairs flood almost led to a complete facility shutter, a major threat that could’ve displaced residents to different communities entirely.

Pruett was asked what convinced voters to approve the substantial 2017 mill levy.

“The fact that there was a real possibility that we would not have a care center for our senior population here in Rifle and we would lose what we worked so hard to gain, which was the five-star facility,” she said. “Only 2% of facilities in the U.S. are five-star.”

That’s exactly what the community got with the new care center, said Pruett.

Though equipped for various wellness, therapy and rehabilitation services, anyone who’s taken the tour will likely agree the new facility isn’t your everyday nursing home.

The "town square" inside the new E. Dene Moore Care Center in Rifle. Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The center, designed by Davis Partnership Architects — the same firm that designed the postmodern Art Hotel in downtown Denver — first greets visitors with a resort-style reception area.

High, atrium ceilings lead people to a commons called “Town Square,” an area covered by another high atrium ceiling, with massive, sunlight-friendly windows furnishing the wall. In this space, residents are able to explore and enjoy various shops, including a general store.

Under medical direction, seniors can sip cocktails at the Perch Pub, a watering hole adorned with antique beer cans and a fish art piece painted by Garfield County artist Sheila Summers. There, staff plan to host weekly happy hours, among other festivities.

The front entryway at the new E. Dene Moore Care Center in Rifle. Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Then there’s Garden Cafe, a spacious, lunch counter-style restaurant that will serve grab-and-go items, coffee and ice-creams. It’s surrounded by a marble-like bar.

Residents can also relax at the Bloom Spa, do crafts at a workshop and receive physical therapy at an in-house gym. They can also warm by a fireplace, get haircuts and new styles from a licensed beautician at the Silver Spur Salon, as well as sit in a designated quiet space and look at panes of stained glass salvaged from an old Presbyterian church in Rifle.

“It makes it feel a lot less like a traditional nursing home and a lot more like a stay away from home,” Paget said. “It’s almost like going to resort.”

Chavien Paget, an administrator at Grand River's E. Dene Moore Care Center, demonstrates how the Handicare walking apparatus will help residents at the new care facility re-learn to walk. Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Beyond Town Square are the living quarters. Broken up into separate sections called neighborhoods — Aspen, Birch, Cedar and Dogwood — each section is essentially its own distinct living complex. But each complex comes equipped with its own dining area and modern kitchen.

There are about 18 residents per neighborhood.

“The whole building is a neighborhood concept, with the town square as the focal point,” Page said. “Every neighborhood has a courtyard, a living and dining room, kitchen … Residents can see the food being made in front of them.”

Meanwhile, the rooms themselves comprise more than 200 square feet, with one resident per room. Paget said each room also has at least one or two windows and a personal bathroom.

An example of a resident room inside the new E. Dene Moore Care Center in Rifle. Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The privacy of each living space was actually a suggestion made by the current E. Dene Moore residents themselves, who were asked by developers how the new place should look during the drawing board stages of the project.

“Even the residents got to say what they wanted on their wish list,” Pruett said. “That’s where you get private bathrooms and windows.”

The entire project is slated to open in phases. The Aspen, Birch and Dogwood neighborhoods are the first living quarters to be available in February. The Cedar neighborhood, which coincides with phase two, should open later this year.

The facility will welcome its final neighborhood, Elm, at the completion of phase three. By then, the facility will have a total of 87 private rooms.

So far, the tours have succeeded in gaining public attention for Grand River Health Care Center, with an influx of people already trying to make reservations.

“We had 15 calls the day after the first tour,” Paget said.

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