New staff, residents boost energy at Casey’s Pond
Nonprofit senior living community to celebrate 10th anniversary
At the entrance to Casey’s Pond nonprofit senior living community, a resident is tending to the flower beds and another resident just finished a walk with her Australian shepherd.
Inside in the bistro, both independent and assisted living residents are talking and having lunch in groups of three or four, eating dishes such a citrus salad with grilled salmon. Other residents are sitting outside in the sunshine on the patio by the namesake pond.
An overall boost of fresh energy is apparent this summer at Casey’s Pond at the corner of South Lincoln Avenue and Walton Creek Road in Steamboat Springs.
“There is an energy and enthusiasm that we haven’t had in a long time, primarily because of the pandemic,” said Chuck Parsons, chairman of the board of directors. “Those were tough years for all of us.”
That energy is welcomed by residents and staff after the struggles and deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fresh highlights for Casey’s Pond this year include a new executive director, director of nursing, community life director, integrated living policy for memory care residents and an influx of independent living residents.
Jeanine Woosley was hired as the executive director in May after Brad Boatright, who had filled that role for seven years, moved out of state to be closer to family.
Currently home to 125 residents, the Casey’s Pond community is planning a 10th year anniversary celebration in October of its opening in 2013 with the public invited to various activities, Parsons said.
Casey’s Pond occupancy has grown from 58% to 83% in the past 13 months, according to Woosley. The community currently has a waitlist for traditional independent living apartments with some availability for studio apartments, while the assisted living section has limited availability.
“The end of the pandemic may have something to do with it, but most of our new residents have adult children living in the Steamboat area and have moved to Casey’s Pond to be near family,” said Woosley.
Director of Nursing Elizabeth Miller-Gibbs started in April after working in Utah and Wyoming as a registered nurse since 2012. Sondra Boyd, formerly a long-time teacher in Hayden, is the new community life director.
Skilled nursing availability is “more fluid because we offer rehab stays for individuals recovering from an acute injury or illness,” Woosley said.
“We also offer short stays in all levels of living. Some residents stay with us for short stays due to rehab, temporary care while their caregiver needs a break or trial stays for various reasons,” Woosley said.
Residents say one reason for the fresh energy is Woosley, who walks around the facility addressing residents and employees by name with smiles and questions.
“Working at Casey’s Pond requires energy and enthusiasm for what you are doing and she’s got it,” Parsons said.
Karen Street, who has lived at Casey’s Pond since it opened, is one of many residents complimentary of Woosley.
“She’s amazing. She was what the doctor ordered,” Street said. “It’s been a major turnaround.”
Woosley is working long hours this summer as she studies and trains for her Nursing Home Administrator certification. In addition to working in other positions at Casey’s Pond since fall 2021, her past professional experience ranges from federal grant manager to financial consultant to union contract negotiations.
Street and others say they enjoy Casey’s Pond most for the people, including employees, fellow residents and visiting family members. They also participate in activities ranging from seated yoga to Brain Boosters and monthly happy hours to outings around town.
Despite a growing state and national shortage of nurses and allied health professionals, Casey’s Pond currently has 134 staff members including culinary. Some staff are as-needed employees or visiting nurses on a 13-week rotation, but a majority are full-time employees, which is considered 32 hours per week at Casey’s Pond to provide for a strong work-life balance.
“It’s hard work,” Woosley said. “Emotionally it takes a toll.”
Another key change since January is the integration of memory care patient residents into the skilled nursing area in the Doak Walker Neighborhood. Parsons said the change was due to a decline in the number of memory care residents combined with improved efficiencies in staffing and resident housing location. Former memory care units are now used to house traveling nurses, which in turn freed up other units.
“We felt we would be better able to serve residents in either the assisted living or nursing neighborhoods where they would benefit from more interaction with their peer groups,” said Woosley, noting the psychosocial well-being benefits of integrating the residents.
Woosley, a mom to four adult children, first became acquainted with Casey’s Pond when her mother-in-law was a resident. She started working at Casey’s Pond as a life enrichment coordinator in October 2021 and was promoted to community life director in April 2022.
“I have never felt more rewarded anywhere at any job ever,” Woosley said. “This has just been a gift. It’s like an extended family here.”
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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