Taylors begin journey

By: 
Hannah Gross

Submitted photo

Don and Ruth Taylor, shown on their wedding day in 2019, are the new owners of Mondell Heights Retirement Home in Newcastle.

Hannah Gross

NLJ Correspondent 

 

As a Weston County commissioner and owner of Donna’s Main Street Diner, Don Taylor and his wife, Ruth, a pharmacist and owner of Cambria Discount Drug, have their hands involved in the community as local entrepreneurs. The Taylors recently added elderly care to their résumé when they officially became the new owners of Mondell Heights on Jan. 4 Their vision, they say, is to give the elderly community in Weston County the best care possible. 

“I’m getting old myself,” Don said. “The quality care of our elders is very important to Ruth and I. … We want to give them the best quality of life they can have.” 

The Taylors have plans and aspirations for Mondell Heights to grow and expand, an ambition that is already taking place. Custer Care (South Dakota) is closing, Taylor said, so at least three of the residents from Custer are moving into Mondell, which currently houses 21 residents. Don said he expects the facility to be full by the end of the first week of January. 

The new owners are also hiring some former staff at Custer Care, including a Medicaid expert. They are also adding more certified nursing assistants to the staff, and the couple are completing their own CNA certification. The position responsible for organizing recreational activities is changing to full time instead of part time. 

Additionally, all the computers are being updated to the PointClickCare system used by the Weston County Hospital and many other health services in the area. Don added that he hopes to construct an identical building adjacent to the present facility to increase operational capacity. 

However, expanding the quantity of care is not his only goal. Don said they want to provide a family environment, so that people want to stay at Mondell Heights not as a cheap, last resort but as a high-quality residential living place for seniors. 

“I want it to be a renowned place where people know it from all over,” Don said. “I want it to be a destination — not just a last stop.” 

One of the challenges is that senior housing is costly to families, especially with Medicare and Medicaid expenses, so Don said he wants to work with families to make that as easy as possible without reducing the quality. 

“We don’t want to sacrifice quality of care for cost,” he said. 

Involvement of the residents’ families is very important to the Taylors, so while COVID-19 regulations are being followed to ensure the safety of the residents, Don said that it won’t be at the expense of turning Mondell Heights into “a prison.” 

“We will not be running this as a bubble,” he said.

Although he has been involved with Relay 4 Life and has had some experience from serving in the military, Don said that this line of work is new for him, so it has been a learning experience. Ruth’s pharmaceutical experience allows her to understand the medication needs of the residents, but Don said that he still has a lot to learn.

“This is not the typical field I thought I’d be in, but it fits our business model, and it’s a needed care,” Don said. “I haven’t done a lot of this, so it’s a lot to learn. … I’ve been learning stuff every day.” 

The transition of ownership has been a long process and includes a lot of administrative work as the Taylors navigate through and implement policies and procedures that will benefit the business. Nonetheless, Don said he is excited about the opportunity to give back to the community by providing elderly care. The residents of Mondell Heights are the people who have helped build Weston County, he said, and he enjoys getting their insight as he works to carry on the legacy they started. 

“I look forward every day (to) getting to know the residents,” he said. 

When Shopko closed (Ruth’s former place of employment), Don said, it presented his wife and him the opportunity to leave Weston County,
but they chose to stay because they love the community
and want to give back.
That’s why they decided to
get involved in local businesses, including their most recent investment.

“We love Weston County. The people have always been good to us, and we (are looking) forward to keep contributing to Weston County and its growth,” Don said. 

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