Can senior care work in Eagle County? | VailDaily.com

Can senior care work in Eagle County?

EDWARDS, Colorado – The first time Johnnette Phillips volunteered to help bring a senior care center to the valley was 1975. Now retired herself, she’s helping again.

Eagle County officials and a few dozen community members Wednesday got together at Battle Mountain High School to listen to presentations from four companies vying to build a “continuum of care” center in Eagle, on county-owned land near the Grand Avenue Cafe.

After a morning in which the companies described themselves to committee members, the volunteers broke into four groups to conduct more detailed interviews.

At lunch, before the interviews, several volunteers talked about the need for senior services, and what it would take to get a facility built in the valley.

“This is a need that’s going to grow,” said Carl Walker, former pastor of Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church. Walker said his parents, now 90 and 97, are living in Santa Fe, N.M., now, but it would be nice to have them closer.

“And those of us who have lived here for a while, if we could stay, we would.”

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Former Vail Mayor Rod Slifer, now 75, agreed. But care, even for older people able to live mostly independent lives, can be very expensive.

The cost, and the need to accommodate people from the valley’s more and less wealthy communities, has in the past been one of the biggest obstacles to creating a senior care facility.

“There needs to be partners in this,” Phillips said. “But the county doesn’t need to be involved in anything but providing the land. All the people today said they’re good at fund-raising, so that’s good.”

In fact, one company, Covenant Retirement Communities, included in its presentation the fact that it raises more than $10 million per year to help people stay in its facilities.

“It will take a lot of fund-raising,” Eagle Town Board member and lifelong town resident Roxie Deane said.

Deane said the town board would welcome a senior care facility, but can’t do much to help financially beyond providing some town services.

But the first step, Deane said, is the county’s commitment of property.

While the final product is still several million dollars away, Phillips said this may be the group that finally gets the job done.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.