Shard Villa now full after nearly closing

MIDDLEBURY — The Shard Villa residential care home continues to rebound from the brink, with board members announcing last week the historic facility has achieved full capacity with 14 residents.
“We’re hanging in there,” Shard Villa Director Deb Choma said on Thursday. “We’re doing alright.”
That’s a better prognosis than Shard Villa received last February, when a majority of its then-board of directors voted to at least temporarily close the facility in wake of financial problems besetting the elder care operation, established in 1919.
Choma and other Shard Villa officials contested the closure plan in Addison County Probate Court. In early May, the two sides agreed to a settlement that called for the current board of directors to resign and for the installation of a new slate of leaders that would try to navigate the elder care home through some choppy financial waters.
Through an intensive marketing campaign that has included new brochures, a Web site and a television commercial, Shard Villa is now full, with its elderly residents being tended to by a staff of 13, according to Choma. It has been a gradual ramp-up that reached eight residents last July and now stands at 14.
“It’s coming together,” said Kate Gieges, treasurer of the Shard Villa board of directors. She said Shard Villa ended 2009 with a financial loss, which she said is largely attributable to the facility being largely vacant for four months while the facility’s fate was being decided in court.
Choma recently was honored by the Governor’s Commission on Healthy Aging for her efforts in helping preserve Shard Villa’s elder care services. The “Healthy Aging Service Champion Award,” presented to her by Gov. James Douglas, credits her for being “one of the chief advocates of keeping alive the 81-year-old mission to care for elder Vermonters. She has expended a great deal of personal energy and commitment for this cause, and her vision for keeping Shard Villa open during these trying times.”

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