Castle Peak Senior Life in Eagle enters second year of service | VailDaily.com

Castle Peak Senior Life in Eagle enters second year of service

EAGLE — Kaye Arnold says she enjoyed the best meal of her life — a special shrimp cocktail — in Eagle.

What may come as a surprise is where she dined. The former Boulder resident now resides in the assisted living wing at Castle Peak Senior Life. The meal she raves about was served in the facility's dining room.

"Chef Marty works hard to provide good meals," Arnold said.

Castle Peak is now in its second year of operation and according to Marketing and Admissions Director Monica McCarroll, Arnold is not alone in her praise for the facility's cuisine.

"Marty (Toper) is a great chef. The resident enjoy him as a person and they enjoy his food. They appreciate what he does to accommodate their needs," McCarroll said.

Having good food served in the dining room was one of the top priorities identified by potential residents when Castle Peak was first proposed. Other needs included providing skilled nursing, memory care and rehabilitation services. It was also important to the community that the facility accept Medicaid and Medicare.

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Today, 15 months after the facility opened, most of those desires have turned into realities.

Meeting first year goals

Castle Peak Senior Life sits at the T-intersection of Capitol Street and Sylvan Lake Road in Eagle and is owned and managed by Augustana Care, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that owns and manages 23 senior care projects around the country. The facility's five-acre site is located immediately north of Brush Creek Elementary School and the 62,000-square-foot building includes 22 skilled nursing beds, 20 assisted living apartments, 12 memory care beds and 10 transitional care units.

According to McCarroll, Castle Peak reached 103 unique patients during its first year of operation. Augustana's goal for the year was 100 patients. To date, the facility has seen 85 rehabilitation patients who stayed at Castle Peak and average of 25 days. There are currently 27 people residing the in the assisted living wing and 31 people in skilled nursing. Of those 31 patients, 39 percent are Medicare patients. In March 2017, Castle Peak was approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to accept Medicaid and Medicare for its skilled nursing, short-term rehabilitation and memory care services.

While the facility has a memory care unit ready for occupancy and Medicaid/Medicare approval to begin offering those services, that is the one resource that Castle Peak has not yet launched.

"There is, definitely, a need in the community for those services," McCarroll said. "But we have to do all or nothing. That is one challenge of opening the memory care wing. We can't mix population in there."

Because regulations prohibit mixing other skilled nursing patients in the memory care wing, McCarroll said Augustana has put off opening that part of the facility until at least this spring.

"It's about getting the right group of residents and the right group of staff," McCarroll said.

Staffing challenges

There are currently 74 employees at Castle Peak, 21 of whom recently marked a full year of service.

"Staff has been a challenge," McCarroll said. "Unfortunately we have the same housing costs as ever other employer in the valley."

The facility has been able to offer some temporary housing units for workers and is working with Colorado Mountain College in Edwards and Glenwood Springs to provide training opportunities to nursing students. Additionally, Castle Peak recently revised its salary schedule.

"We are competitive with similar facilities," McCarroll said.

On the subject of similar facilities, residents who traveled the Glenwood Springs detour during the Grand Avenue bridge replacement no doubt noticed a large assisted living/memory care facility — called Peregrine Senior Living — under construction in the community to the west. McCarroll said the new facility illustrates the large need for senior care services in Western Colorado.

"I think we will complement each other well with the services we each offer," she said.

Serving Eagle County residents

As residents have moved into Castle Peak, McCarroll said the population has a definite locals' vibe.

"I can only think of one rehabilitation patient who came from out of state to see a Steadman Hawkins doctor. She stayed with us for about a month," McCarroll said. "Everyone else here has a local connection."

Some of the residents formerly lived in the area, others have family living here today. Arnold is an example of the latter. She moved to Castle Peak to be closer to her daughter.

"I feel very protected here," Arnold said.

Castle Peak resident Larry Rodarte, formerly of Minturn, is grateful that he can receive the assistance he needs without being a bother to friends or family.

"I get all the help I need. If I need something, the girls here take care of it," Rodarte said.

Many patients have expressed gratitude for the rehabilitation services available on site. "There was nothing here before. Patients had to drive to Glenwood," Arnold said.

Statistics from Castle Peak demonstrate the popularity of the rehabilitation options.

"We have provided up to 129 hours of therapy services (physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy) in one week," Arnold said.

Games, kids and pets

Beyond the medical services, McCarroll said residents' favorite activities offered on site include bingo, visits from Brush Creek Elementary School students, on-site music performances, beauty/barber shop services and pet visits. McCarroll said residents enjoy outdoor spaces located around the campus and they like to hang out at their new home.

"They told us were to doing too many trips away from the site," she said.

Castle Peak has a robust volunteer program. McCarroll said that approximately 70 active volunteers compile more than 200 service hours at the site each month.

As the facility moves into its second year, McCarroll said its operation will continue evolving.

"The key to a good living environment is flexibility and meeting the needs of the residents. That chances with time and our programs will change accordingly," she said.

To learn more about the facility, including volunteer and employment opportunities, visit http://www.castlepeak.org.