On Saturday, members of Cortez’s government and health community attended a private groundbreaking ceremony for an assisted living facility that will specialize in serving dementia patients.
The foundation has been laid for the BeeHive Homes of Cortez Homestead memory care center on 694 Cottonwood St., within sight of Southwest Memorial Hospital. It will be a part of the BeeHive Homes franchise, an Idaho-based company, but will be owned by Cortez resident Jan Gardner. Construction began in early June, and Gardner said she expects the home to be finished by December.
Cortez Mayor Karen Sheek and BeeHive subfranchiser Gerald Hamilton joined Gardner in performing the groundbreaking Saturday morning after a short speech by Gardner.
Gardner said her desire to provide residential care for Cortez seniors with dementia came after her husband Gary’s death from Alzheimer’s disease about 2½ years ago.
“I learned very quickly that we didn’t quite have enough in our community to serve that section of people,” she said.
Saturday’s ceremony was the culmination of about two years of work to acquire the property and funding for the facility. The land came from the Montezuma County Hospital District, which sold it to Gardner more than a year ago, and some of the funding was provided by a Small Business Administration loan. When it’s finished, the center will house about 16 permanent residents, Gardner said, as well as an adult day care and a room for temporary “respite care” for seniors whose caregivers have to leave town for a few days.
She said she chose BeeHive Homes because she liked the homestyle approach they take to providing assisted living.
“This ... allows for more personal care and provides a much-needed solution for small towns and rural communities that would otherwise not be able to offer assisted living services to their elderly,” she wrote in a Monday news release about the project.
Several Montezuma County residents have already expressed interest in working at the home or placing a loved one there, she said.
In addition to Gardner’s family and friends and members of the Cortez City Council, several hospital district representatives attended the ceremony. Board chairman Brad Wayt said he thought the facility would benefit the community.
“(Gardner) saw a need and is meeting that,” he said. “It’s terrific, a wonderful vision on her part. It’s unfortunate that she had to go through what she did with her husband in order to get to this point, but maybe this is a blessing that comes out of it.”
Southwest Health System CEO Kent Rogers said the hospital isn’t licensed to provide long-term care for dementia patients, but staff will support the home in any way they can. Gardner works as a relief nurse specializing in diabetes education at the hospital, so Rogers said he sees her as “family.”
After the groundbreaking, Gardner served refreshments, including ice cream, one of Gary Gardner’s favorite treats.