Castle Peak Senior Care hosts grand opening Thursday | VailDaily.com

Castle Peak Senior Care hosts grand opening Thursday

EAGLE — Mary Hoza is happy to be back home in Eagle.

Mary spent nearly 50 years in the community where she and her husband ran the Eagle Pharmacy and they raised their family of 11 children. But when Mary reached a point in life where she needed assisted living services, she had no choice but to leave Eagle County.

With the opening of Castle Peak Senior Care this fall, Mary was able to come home. She is very impressed with her new digs — decorated more like a ski resort lodge than the institutional "nursing homes" of the past. The assisted dining room features a killer view of the facility's namesake peak and a huge stone fireplace. Down the hall there is a beauty saloon and downstairs there is a library and a fitness center. The outside patio area has a natural gas fire pit and barbecue along with lounging chairs.

Mary seems a bit taken aback by all the amenities, but she knows what she likes best about her new home. She likes being close to family and being back in touch with what's up in Eagle.

"I went to go pick up some things at City Market yesterday and oh my goodness, what a place that is," she said, referencing the grocery store remodel that dominates conversation around Eagle.

When Castle Peak Senior Care launched its fund-raising campaign a couple of years ago, the centerpiece of the effort was the phrase "Making our Community Whole." Bringing folks such as Mary Hoza back to town is likely what those words meant.

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A lot to celebrate

With the opening of Castle Peak, Augustana Care, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that owns and manages 23 senior care projects, has brought Eagle County its first residential project dedicated to senior care. The facility's 5-acre site is located immediately north of Brush Creek Elementary School in the Eagle Ranch neighborhood. The 62,000-square-foot building now dominates the T-intersection of Capitol Street and Sylvan Lake Road and includes 22 skilled nursing beds, 20 assisted living apartments, 12 memory care beds and 10 transitional care units. Those residential units are the nuts and bolts of the facility, but Castle Peak's services extend far beyond simple living accommodations.

Take the first left from the lobby area to see the first example. Along with its 10 beds, the short term rehabilitation facility on the main floor includes a large therapy room and spa.

"It's what you might see at Howard Head, but its tailors more to occupational therapy," said Matt Scherr, director of marketing for Castle Peak. That means in addition to traditional therapy equipment, the rehabilitation room includes a kitchen set up where patients can test their ability to load and unload a dishwasher and a platform that mimics a standard bed height so they can practice tucking in and getting up.

"This therapy is really designed to get our residents ready to go home," said Scherr.

Residents of the short-term rehabilitation center comprise one of the "neighborhoods" at Castle Peak. That means they have their own dining and lounge area, designed for 12 people. Next to the rehab area is an 11-unit skilled nursing neighborhood that also features a smaller dining area and lounge.

While all the food preparation at Castle Peak is managed from a single large kitchen, Scherr said the days of large institutional dining rooms are gone. Residents in the skilled nursing neighborhoods will all dine in more intimate settings featuring 10 to 12 people.

"This is meant to be like a home environment. You don't have that big hospital feel," said Scherr.

Speaking of dining, that's a priority for both residents and families considering the facility. Marty Topor, former executive and sous chef at the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek, is in charge of the kitchen and he's been getting great reviews from Castle Peak's first residents.

"One of the first questions I get is 'How's the food?' So far that's been good,'" said Scherr.

The skilled nursing area is lightly populated currently, as Castle Peak works toward Medicare and Medicaid certification.

"The interesting thing about the process is you have to have to be open to have the state start its process for Medicare and Medicaid," said Scherr. "Right now, patients for skilled nursing have to be private pay. It's really very important for us to be able to accept Medicare and Medicaid and we are trying to get that done as soon as possible."

Upstairs at Castle Peak

On the second floor at Castle Peak, the 12-unit memory care wing provides a secured area where residents can't wander away. But the neighborhood features much more than alarm rigged doors. A large patio area overlooks the Brush Creek Elementary School playground and a "reflection room" has been designed for residents who respond better to a quiet environment.

In the western wing of the building, the second and third floors are the assisted living rooms. The facility has 402-square-foot studio units, 500-square-foot one-bedroom units and 833-square-foot two-bedroom units. Prices range from $5,000 per month for a second floor studio unit to $6,190 for a two-bedroom third floor unit. Additionally there is a $3,000 one-time community fee.

The basic services included in that price are three meals per day, scheduled activities and outings, weekly housekeeping and linen laundry, initial and annual nursing assessments, available 24-hour nursing care, an emergency response system, medical appointment scheduling, rehabilitation services and access to community spaces. Those community spaces include everything from a big screen television theater room to raised outdoor gardens.

Stephanie Sheridan, life enrichment director at Castle Peak, said outings for residents can include everything from a trip to the Capitol Theater to a walk along the Eagle Ranch pedestrian paths. For Halloween, she plans an outing over to Brush Creek Elementary so the residents can see the students' costume parade.

"Every day our residents are doing a lot here," she said.

While the facility provides a number of options, Scherr stressed that assisted living residents get to pick and choose what they do. "Independence is what assisted living is all about," he said.

In that vein, the facility has already formed a residents council to give Castle Peak inhabitants a say in what happens at the facility. The council's first meeting was Tuesday and Castle Peak Administrator Dan Shields launched the session by asking "Is there anything you would like changed? We are just trying to get an idea if there is anything you want to talk about."

There was a request to schedule a visit to the Frost Creek Mountain Club and a discussion about Thursday's grand opening, but in general Castle Peak's residents said they like their new digs and they are enjoying the food. Now all they need is some more time to feel right at home.

If you go

What: Castle Peak ‘s grand opening event.

When: Thursday.

Time: 4 to 7 p.m.

Where: 195 Freestone Road, Eagle Ranch.

Details: All are welcome to stop by to see the newly completed Castle Peak facility. You may also tour the center, meet the staff and enjoy refreshments.