Published in Denver, Colorado’s MUSE June 2020 Edition

If you have driven past the intersection of Peoria Street and Andrews Drive in Montbello in recent months, you may have wondered what was happening at the campus of St. Andrew Lutheran Church. The construction fence and equipment surrounding the entire property signaled the construction of what is a soon-to-be completed beautifully renovated structure on the site. So what’s going on?

Here’s the scoop. For 50 years, St. Andrew operated a well-respected pre-school to elementary private school that serviced Montbello and surrounding Far Northeast families. The increased availability of other nearby educational opportunities resulted in the church making a decision to close the school. Subsequently, St. Andrew School structure lay dormant for more than five years. About four years ago, Urbitecture, llc, a visionary architecture and development firm with a history of repurposing existing properties was invited to speak with the congregation about the possibilities of repurposing the school building. This was the beginning of the concept of Open Arms Assisting Living. With the blessing of St. Andrew’s congregation, Urbitecture assembled a volunteer advisory team of church leaders, Far Northeast community members and eldercare experts to begin planning discussions. The team sought and received input on assisted living needs of Far Northeast Denver residents at several community events such as the Montbello Organizing Committee’s Montbello Alive annual celebrations.

The community’s excitement about having a never before available senior care resource, dedicated to the needs of the 70-plus  residents, helped to crystallize the planning of what Open Arms should offer.  Open Arms will provide support with what are generally considered activities of daily living. This may include assistance with bathing, grooming and dressing, toileting, getting in and out of bed  and feeding oneself.  Residents can also expect assistance with domestic tasks such as housekeeping, laundry, errands and medication management.  Open Arms commitments to residents are to provide a safe and pleasant environment, respect for individual preferences and personal values, respect for privacy, and high quality care and services at a competitive cost.

Open Arms will be a 30-bed facility that will include space dedicated to a combination of private pay residents and residents qualified for long-term care by Colorado’s Medicaid program. A unique amenity at the facility will be onsite telehealth capability. Each resident’s room will have telehealth monitors by which they can contact the assigned physicians for immediate attention to their healthcare needs. Residents will also have an ice cream pub for them and their guests. The pub will be a one-of-a-kind ice cream shop where both residents and members of congregations can interact.

On October 12, 2019, St. Andrew Lutheran Church celebrated the groundbreaking of the Open Arms renovation. On hand at the event were over 50 supporters and community members. Both Denver City Councilman Chris Herndon and City Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore attended as did Doug Jamison from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. J.L. Melton Construction, Inc. the firm contracted to complete the renovation, also attended the event. Long-term Montbello resident, Open Arms Board Member and St. Andrew Lutheran Church Board President, Richard Poole, expresses his excitement about the expected September opening of Open Arms in this way: “Without the concerted support of the whole community, this project would not exist.”

by Mary J Davis, PhD, RN, Owner of World of Wellness Home Care and Member of Open Arms Assisted Living

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