Haven, VNA raising merger funds

Organizations earn two $50K grants toward $750K one-year goal

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The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association has secured more than $100,000 toward its $750,000 fund-raising goal to purchase Routt County's only assisted living center.

That, along with recent support from the community, has representatives of The Haven Senior Assisted Living Center in Hayden expressing confidence about the center's future.

"This is (just) a beginning, but it's exciting," said Mark Fischer, president of West Routt Rural Health Council Inc., which now owns the Haven and is working with VNA on a collaborative plan for the center. "It's an exciting and confident beginning to the fund-raising campaign."

The VNA agreed earlier this month to work with West Routt Rural Health to generate funds for the Haven's debt and for future services. Both groups have praised each other's energy and commitment.

Eventually, the center would merge with the VNA.

Acquiring the Haven is one step in VNA's goal of providing more activities and options for seniors in the area, said Sue Birch, VNA director.

"We think it's imperative that seniors and caregivers of seniors have choices and options here in the valley for their loved ones," Birch said. "Different people need different types of services as they age. We just want to make sure those are firmly grounded and developed over time."

The Haven's 8-plus acres of land also could eventually be used for a community health center, adult day care, a hospice house or expanded senior living, Birch said.

The Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation awarded the VNA a $50,000 grant to acquire the center, along with a $50,000 conditional grant that will be awarded if VNA meets its goal of raising $750,000 in one year. The foundation focuses on helping programs that relieve suffering, meeting basic human needs, promote self-sufficiency and enrich the quality of life.

Haven residents also have made private donations, Birch said.

The $750,000 would allow the VNA to use about $500,000 to cover the debt on the Haven, about $100,000 to remodel one part of the building to provide space for group meals and meetings, with the remainder set aside to keep the center financially viable.

VNA and the West Routt Rural Health have plans to organize a fund-raising committee, made up of representatives from both organizations as well as interested residents.

One target for funding would be $250,000 from the $6.2 million the state recently designated for rural health projects.

Earlier this year, the future of the center was not so certain, after Yampa Valley Medical Center nixed plans to purchase and operate the center because of cost concerns.

In many ways, Birch said, acquiring the Haven is in VNA's best interest, as it creates efficiencies and provides more options to seniors.

The Haven has served about 80 people since it was built in 1996. It has a maximum occupancy of 20 residents, and now serves 15.

Since VNA agreed to acquire the Haven, there have been six new referrals and a few new residents.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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