Admission criteria at Aspen’s Whitcomb Terrace may see changes |

Admission criteria at Aspen’s Whitcomb Terrace may see changes

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – New admissions criteria are in the offing at Whitcomb Terrace, the assisted-living facility operated by Aspen Valley Hospital.

The list of people waiting for a spot in the 15-bed facility has grown to more than 40 names, AVH Chief Financial Officer Terry Collins reported to the hospital’s board of directors Monday.

A non-refundable deposit of a half-month’s rent at the facility has been proposed, and some members of the hospital board suggested giving longtime residents of the hospital district priority status on the waiting list.

Current eligibility for the Whitcomb Terrace units – there are 11 for the general public and four set aside for Medicaid patients – falls into two groups, Collins explained. They include local residents who want a spot in the facility and local residents who want a spot for a parent, though the parent may reside elsewhere. In both cases, one year of local residency is all that’s required to get onto the waiting list, he said.

The Senior Council, a citizen advisory group, was split on whether one group should get priority over the other; hospital administrators recommended both groups remain on equal footing.

“Honestly, I think it’s a tough decision,” said David Ressler, hospital CEO.

Some hospital board members, however, took issue with the one-year residency requirement.

“Twelve months is awfully short,” said Dr. Barry Mink, suggesting longtime residents have priority. He suggested those with at least 10 years of residency rise to the top of the list, and board member Chuck Frias agreed.

The board endorsed the proposed deposit, as did the Senior Board. Rents for Whitcomb Terrace units range from $3,800 to $4,700 per month. Someone who puts up half a month’s rent as a deposit would forfeit it if their name comes up and they decline the unit, unless the needs of the prospective resident have changed such that they are no longer eligible for assisted living, Collins said. The idea, he said, is to make sure those who put their names on the list are serious about getting a unit.

Ressler said he will seek the Senior Council’s input on a priority status based on tenure in the community before a decision is made.

The real problem, noted John Sarpa, AVH board chairman, is the shortage of assisted living units in the Aspen community. Site planning has been done to add 10 more units, but that still is not sufficient, Ressler said.

Whitcomb Terrace offers private apartments for residents who are able to live independently but need some assistance. They can dine in a communal dining room and receive services from round-the-clock staff. Whitcomb Terrace shares a building with Pitkin County Senior Services, and AVH is nearby. Though it’s not a medical facility, residents’ health is monitored by the staff, and residents can make arrangements for administration of their medication and other home-health services.

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