Su Lum: Slumming | AspenTimes.com

Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

I read in the paper last Wednesday that our assisted-living facility, Whitcomb Terrace (previously Castle Creek Terrace, otherwise known as The Home), has such a long waiting list (40) that the hospital board is considering requiring non-refundable deposits.

To me, this completely misses the point. What Whitcomb Terrace needs is more rooms – not just the 10 additional units presently on the drawing board (and apparently stuck there forever), but twice that many, and another wing for those needing extreme care – now.

Aspen Valley Hospital is in the process of a huge expansion (and Valley View following suit) and, god love them, I’m certainly not going to come out against THAT but, with all the land they have up there, couldn’t a chunk of it be used to ensure that Aspen is as great a place to grow old and die in as it is to live in?

Whitcomb Terrace has only 15 rooms, way too small for our aging population. And saddest of all, if the residents need more than minimal care, they have to be uprooted at their most vulnerable time of their lives and shipped off elsewhere to maximum-care facilities.

Harold Whitcomb thought that this was Aspen’s shame, and it’s ironic that Castle Creek Terrace was renamed in his honor when a new wing in his name would have been something really meaningful.

Let’s get off the pot here.

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I am not writing without prejudice – when the time comes (and it comes faster than I ever imagined), I want to be able to get in there, and, once I’m in, I don’t want to be kicked out to die downvalley. You guys aren’t getting any younger, either, so think about it.

Barry Mink made a good point about residency requirements. A person only has to have lived here a year to be qualified for Whitcomb Terrace. He suggested that those who have lived here 10 years or more be moved to the top of the list – YEA for that. Hell, you have to live and work here four years to get into the employee housing lotteries.

Older people are encouraged to get on the Whitcomb Terrace waiting list right now if they are to have any hope of getting in when they have to, and since the facility clearly won’t have any trouble filling the rooms until they’ve brought the place up to speed, it seems especially draconian to be talking about our elders having to forfeit several thousand dollars if they turn down the opportunity if their name turns up.

It would be much better to tighten the residency requirement and keep the waiting list more manageable.

But the best solution of all would be to double the size and add a maximum-care area into the hospital expansion. It sounds like a grant-worthy, shovel-ready project to me.