Our View: The Haven worth saving

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The progress the Visiting Nurse Association has made in raising funds for The Haven Assisted Living Facility is welcome news, but more remains to be done.

It has been slightly more than a year since the VNA stepped in and announced plans to try to rescue the struggling facility. This week, the VNA announced it was within $85,000 of the $450,000 it needs to acquire The Haven, and officials said they expect to complete the merger next month. Support has come from several foundations as well as individual community members and businesses.

We encourage the community to consider not only contributing to the VNA's capital campaign to acquire the facility but also to consider future contributions to assist with The Haven's operation and the VNA's plans for expanded services for seniors.

Purchasing The Haven is the first step for the VNA. The agency also is raising money to build a community center at The Haven. The expansion will provide more room for existing senior programs and meals and allow more "aging well" activities aimed at integrating seniors with other generations within the community, said Dace Kramer of the VNA.

The Haven was built in 1996 at a time when many in the health care industry thought demand for assisted-living facilities would explode in the coming decade. That decade is about up, and such demand has yet to materialize. The Haven often has struggled with occupancy levels at or below 50 percent. Limits on Medicaid funding also have hurt the center.

Yampa Valley Medical Center considered purchasing The Haven 18 months ago, but officials ultimately decided against acquisition after reviewing The Haven's books.

Despite the inconsistent financial performance, we think The Haven is worth saving. The center fills a necessary service void in the area, and we think the center will be successful in the long term.

Already, the center is an integral part of the Hayden community and the surrounding county. And although demand for the facility has not been what the original planners had hoped, the service is important to working families trying to care for elderly relatives. In the coming years, demand for the service should slowly but surely increase.

But to enjoy that long-term success, we first must help the VNA with its short-term goals.

As a public health agency, the VNA seems the most appropriate organization to acquire and operate The Haven. And the agency has done an admirable job of getting to this point. But the VNA's work is by no means done. The organization is waiting on responses to several grant requests and continues to need the community's financial support.

Maintaining and expanding the options available at The Haven improves the quality of health and living options available to elderly residents in the Yampa Valley. That translates to an overall increase in the quality of life for everyone in the area. As we have said before, this is a cause worth supporting.

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