Eagle County commissioners: Why we’re supporting Castle Peak Senior Care Center
Aging in place can mean remaining in your home or your community and this is something many of us aspire to do. The benefits of growing old in familiar surroundings, among family and friends, are well documented and include decreased loneliness, increased social engagement, and a sense of comfort and familiarity that comes from remaining close to loved ones.
Previously, many seniors in our community were forced to relocate to care facilities outside Eagle County when their health care needs evolved. That changed in 2016 with the opening of Castle Peak Senior Care Center. Castle Peak was the first and remains the only facility in our community providing assisted living, short-term rehabilitation, long-term care, and memory care with 22 skilled nursing beds, 20 assisted living apartments, 12 memory care beds, and 10 transitional care units.
Castle Peak is a much-needed resource for our community, providing compassionate, quality care. It has been an important part of the health care landscape in our area for the past seven years — a testament to the community’s commitment to its seniors. It is also a boon to our economy, by keeping those community members and the associated jobs in Eagle County.
When Cassia, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates Castle Peak, approached us about the financial strain it is facing, we were concerned and sympathetic. It resonated deeply with us. Transparency is one of the county’s guiding principles, and we appreciated Cassia’s open and honest explanation of its current situation. Like many businesses, it struggles to attract and retain employees due in part to the high cost of living in the mountains. In order to fill skilled staff positions, it needs to pay more and often hire caregivers from other areas, substantially increasing their operating costs.
In a refrain familiar to many local businesses, Cassia’s difficulty in filling staff positions only intensified following the pandemic, with traveling nurses often accounting for the majority of the skilled nursing staff positions. Although it was able to attract staff from outside the U.S. to alleviate the staffing strain, many of those nurses left due to the high cost of housing. Recently, Cassia’s ability to increase the hourly wage for some of its staff has stabilized its staffing.
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The county strategic plan articulates our mission to create a better Eagle County for all. We take this solemn obligation seriously, especially in the case of our most vulnerable residents, including our seniors. Castle Peak is a cherished community asset and we appreciate Cassia’s financial and operational support since the center’s opening. When Cassia asked for additional investment from the county to continue its high level of service and care, we were happy to continue to work in partnership at Castle Peak.
We, therefore, approved a supplemental budget appropriation designed to help Castle Peak keep serving our community. We are not just investing money — we are investing in our community’s heart and shared future. We believe this is a worthy investment in a community asset, and we hope this funding will help Castle Peak attract and retain the talented staff it needs to continue to thrive and serve our community.