Forest Ridge Receives Warm Welcome- Rick Langenberg

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The official opening of the new 80-bed Forest Ridge center next to the Pikes Peak Regional Hospital, received a warm welcome last week by many community and business leaders and local residents.

In fact, the $12.5 million, 50,000 square-foot facility lived up to its preliminary billing as a top-quality hub for post-hospital recovery, skilled nursing and memory care, with a resort-like feel. The two-story center is equipped with four distinct communities of 20-room areas or neighborhoods. Moreover, the facility features all private rooms, top-of-the line therapy, 24-hour RN coverage, Wi-Fi services, an in-house beauty salon, stellar dining amenities and nutritional services and trophy-level mountain views, just to name a few of the benefits.

Forest Ridge is a well-awaited project in the community.

“It’s like giving birth,” said Kelley Whitaker of OnPointe Health, the company that will manage the facility, when describing the difficult process Forest Ridge underwent at last week’s ribbon cutting ceremony.

Plans for the facility have been in the works for more than five years, and the center actually broke ground in September 2014. Whitaker and project representatives lauded the support demonstrated by community leaders. “This is one of the most unique communities. It was very refreshing,” added Whitaker, in describing the community enthusiasm towards the project.

Curt Grina, president of the Pikes Peak Regional Medical Center Association, noted that Forest Ridge represents another great boon for the hospital campus and the community. He said it definitely shattered the views of cynics who didn’t believe what a small group of citizens could accomplish. Grina reiterated that the hospital campus, and its combination of facilities, is becoming a resounding success story in Teller County. He said the hospital has now reached an annual payroll of more than $12 million, and features some of the best paying jobs in the area. He noted that this trend will continue with Forest Ridge, along with an improved quality of life for residents.

And many speakers at the opening ceremony lauded the vision of the main developer of the project, Bob Schleicher, who was frequently praised for putting the development together and enduring many delays.

In some ways, Woodland Park is an ideal fit for the facility

Woodland Park is becoming a popular retirement destination for baby boomers. It has been predicted that the population of residents over age 65 in Teller County will increase by 157 percent over the next 20 years, so Forest Ridge is expected to meet a growing need within the community. The facility will be easily accessible for families in Teller, Park, or El Paso Counties.

Schleicher of Mid States Senior Living worked on the project behind the scenes for a number of years. Although talks started back in April 2010, it was not until early 2013 that a partnership was formed between Schleicher and Horace Winchester and Jerry Williamson of OnPointe Health.

The facility definitely stands out, as it is unusual for a skilled nursing home center of this magnitude to be built in a small community like Woodland Park. Many of OnPointe’s facilties are located in bigger locales in New Mexico and Texas, according to their website.

During a few brief comments, Schleicher lauded the support he received. Jokingly, he said the project gained more traction during a friendly round of golf in Woodland Park, when he leaned that if he could survive the scrutiny of Grina, the project had a chance. The developer apparently survived the test. The facility is located on land owned by the medical center association.

Schleicher also complimented the Woodland Park branch of Peoples Bank, which helped orchestrate a loan for the project.

But during last week’s preliminary ceremonies, most community leaders were more interested in the final product than the preliminary planning details.

Roger Call, the administrator of Forest Ridge, touted the facility as the place where ‘you would want your own mother to reside in.’ Each neighborhood or community hub of Forest Ridge has its own dining area, social gathering spots and nurses’ stations. The facility is expected to have 80 employees, once it gets into full operation.

Already, Forest Ridge has become a big player in the community at local functions.

According to a previous article in The Mountain Jackpot, the facility’s two-story design was chosen to reduce staff response times and avoid long cavernous hallways. Noise reduction for resident peace was also taken into account as fewer rooms will share a common hallway. Because of the large size of the private rooms, some physical therapy can be provided in the comfort of the resident’s room. The main physical therapy area is located on the second floor, overlooking the hospital campus.

Forest Ridge will make extensive use of shared services and personnel with the hospital, which is right next door.

In addition to the peaceful ambiance and quality health care, the practical needs of residents are addressed with the layout. A hair salon, massages, transportation, itemized nutritional dining, and concierge services are some of the amenities that are offered. Several meeting rooms will be available for education and training for staff as well as for the use of residents and their families.

For more information about Forest Ridge, call 719-686-6500 or visit ForestRidgeHealth.com.