The highlighted area is the 2.5 acres sold to Bee Hive Homes to build an assisted living facility, east of the Grand Center of 500 West and north of Moab Regional Hospital on the corner of 500 West and Williams Way. [Courtesy of Canyonlands Healthcare Services District]

In a unanimous vote on May 13 the Grand County’s Canyonlands Healthcare Service District administrative control board voted to sell a 2.5 acre parcel of land next to the Grand Center on 500 West to Bee Hive Homes to build an assisted living facility.

The Idaho based company’s facility would fulfill one of the four phases of the healthcare service district’s Moab Area Partnership for Seniors (MAPS) plan and move the county closer to comprehensive care for the elderly.

“It will keep some people that need a little extra help in Moab,” said Verleen Striblen, the program manager at the Grand Center and healthcare district board member.

The existing Canyonlands Care Center provides services for Grand County residents who require a higher level of care than would be provided by the assisted living facility.

The proposed facility would be comprised of 16 private units, each with its own bathroom and shower. At least three certified nursing assistants would be on staff at all times and three family style meals would be provided every day, said Dennis Toland, the co-founder and co-owner of Bee Hive Homes.

“It’s like an all inclusive resort because everything is there for them,” he said. “All they need are their clothes.”

Toland and his brother-in-law started Bee Hive Homes in 1987 to take care of their grandparents, whose health was declining. Since then the company has grown to have over 150 assisted living facilities across the country, 50 of which will be located in Utah by the end of the summer.

Toland said that Bee Hive Homes makes a priority of keeping their facilities small; only a few of their properties house more than 16 people. Because of the small size of their facilities, they have been able to open assisted living residencies in small communities like Moab, which their competitors have ignored, Toland said.

“We have had our eye on Moab for a long, long time,” he said. “It just seemed like now was a good time.”

Another aspect of Bee Hive Homes that Toland said sets it apart from competitors is that all of their facilities are purposely built for the elderly.

The facility that Bee Hive Homes plans to build in Moab would cost approximately $1 million, and they anticipate using all local contractors for the construction.

Unlike a nursing home, the proposed facility would be for individuals who still have a good deal of independence, but who can no longer live on their own.

“The average age is 85. They’re almost all single – they have lost a spouse – and for one reason or another they can’t live at home by themselves,” Toland said.

The assisted living facility would also provide care for those with low-level Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The duties of the staff working at the assisted living facility would include ensuring that residents take their medication at the appropriate times, as well as assisting residents in bathing and using the restroom.

Residents of the Bee Hive Homes assisted living facility would pay between $2,500 and $3,300 a month, depending of the level of care they require, Toland said.

By contrast, residents of the Canyonlands Care Center nursing home pay around $4,500 a month, though the rate fluctuates from quarter to quarter and varies based on the patients needs, said Lois MacKenzie, a registered nurse (RN) who works at the Canyonlands Care Center.

The Bee Hive Homes’ facility would be the third of MAPS’s four phases. When all four phases of MAPS are completed Grand County hopes to provide the area with “a continuum of care” for the elderly, Striblen said.

The first phase of MAPS was the Grand Center, followed by phase two which included the Moab Regional Hospital and the Canyonlands Care Center.

“An independent living community would be the fourth and final phase,” Striblen said.

By having all of the facilities in such close proximity to one another the Canyonlands Healthcare Services District Administrative Control Board hopes to make it as easy as possible for residents to move from one facility to the next.

“In small communities like we are in it is very nice to have everything nearby,” said MacKenzie. “It makes the transitions a little bit smoother.”