Mesa Developmental Services clients prepare for move

Nonprofit races to build 3 homes before March 1 deadline arrives

Travis Flowers has lived most of his life in the skilled nursing unit of Grand Junction’s Regional Center. With the closing of that unit because of state budget cuts, Flowers, and 23 others living there, will move into three new homes being built by the nonprofit Mesa Developmental Services.

Flower’s mother, Maree Burke, said her son, 26, is sad about the change, but she hopes that he will feel comfortable there once he gets settled in.

“I do know that he gets pretty sad,” Burke said. “We try to keep it upbeat.”

Families and guardians of the 32 clients in the skilled nursing unit at the Regional Center have choices about where to place loved ones who had lived there. After the skilled nursing unit was slated for closure, families and guardians were shown options at a placement fair.

That included placement in private homes and nursing homes for the elderly. Burke said neither of those options would be good for her son because he thrives in social situations. At the fair, staff from MDS spoke directly to her son and answered a list of questions he provided, which made him feel at ease. That helped make their decision to contract with MDS, she said.

“They made him feel he was part of the plan,” Burke said.

Burke said she’s most interested that her son receives the same high quality of care that he received at the Regional Center, where he thrived.

She is thrilled that MDS staff often get clients out into the community and that Travis will have his own room that he can decorate.

MDS is working quickly to construct three new group homes with eight bedrooms each to house the residents before the March 1 deadline. The skilled nursing unit is slated for closure at that time.

The homes will be equipped with the latest technology to increase residents’ quality of life and to help staff work safely with clients, MDS Spokeswoman Marilee Langfitt said. The project is named, “A Home of Their Own.”

A wide outpouring of community support from local businesses for the project and an expedited construction permitting process have helped jump-start the project, Langfitt said. However, because the project was conceived so quickly as a solution to skilled nursing unit closure, grant funding has been nearly impossible, she said.

Despite the snowfall last week, about 40 people attended a ground-breaking ceremony for one of the group homes at 680 29 1/2 Road. Workers have been putting in seven-day work weeks on the job site and plan to lay the foundation Wednesday.

Some MDS staff who wish to work in the group homes will receive higher levels of training to work there. MDS also wants to recruit nursing students and staff from the Regional Center to work in the group homes, Langfitt said.

“I think after the initial shock it will OK,” Burke said. “He’s been in that one environment for 20-some years and thrived. There were other choices, but this one really fit Travis.”

To donate to the “A Home of Their Own” project, call Marilee Langfitt at 256-8640.


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