Talk of assisted living center picks up |

Talk of assisted living center picks up

Tamara Miller

EAGLE ” Ardyth Nimon has heard it all before.

The county has been talking for years about building an assisted-living facility in Eagle. But talk has been little comfort for Nimon, who had to take her ailing husband to Carbondale to get the care he needed. Last winter, Jim Nimon died in a Glenwood Springs facility, 31 miles away from the town he had lived in nearly all his life.

Months later, county leaders are talking about building a facility again. One commissioner, Tom Stone, even wants to budget money in 2006 to build it. In the meantime, Nimon is planning to move to Grand Junction when she no longer can care for herself, by herself.

“I’m bitter, I admit it,” she said.

Ask any of the lunch patrons who frequent the Golden Eagle Senior Center about the same topic, and you are likely to get a few nods. They’ve all heard it all before.

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“I’m a little bit doubtful,” said Bert Bratton, who was eating lunch with Nimon and a few others Thursday afternoon.

Doubts notwithstanding, the commissioners agreed Tuesday to resurrect the plans they made four years ago and bring them up-to-date with today’s needs in mind. What they learned then was that an assisted-living center couldn’t survive financially on its own.

However, new ideas and a new commitment to follow through with the promise may lead to a different result. “I actually feel delinquent about this,” Stone told the other commissioners in a meeting Tuesday.

Officials with Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs and the Vail Valley Medical Center have discussed including an assisted-living center in their plans for a hospital that will be built in Eagle Ranch someday. Stone doesn’t want to wait around anymore.

“I think there is a need now,” he said.

According to the 2000 census, only about 3 percent of Eagle County’s population is over the age of 65. However, the number of people over the age of 60 is expected grow by 64 percent in just the next five years.

The commissioners want to reserve 25 percent of rooms in the assisted-living center for seniors on limited incomes who qualify for Medicaid. One way to keep the facility from relying too heavily on county subsidies would be to market to wealthier seniors, said Commissioner Peter Runyon.

The income from that group could offset the cost of renting out rooms to lower-income patients, he said.

The county should put aside about $900,000 to help build the facility, Stone said. Perhaps the rest of the money for the building ” estimated to cost $2.4 million ” could come from grants, he said.

Eagle County probably needs an assisted-living center and a full-time nursing care facility, said Betty Carter, an Edwards resident who visits the Golden Eagle Senior Center. Howard Risk, another senior center visitor, said the county needs a nursing facility more. There are a lot of people in the county who need an advanced level of help.

They shouldn’t have to go somewhere else to get that help, Risk said.

“I think it would save lives,” he said.

Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or

Vail, Colorado

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