Columbine Home Health helps people remain independent |

Columbine Home Health helps people remain independent

Kay Vasilakis
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Independent living is important to everyone. Sometimes, it is something we take for granted, but an accident or a medical emergency can change things dramatically.

Columbine Home Health was created in 1997 by three founding registered nurses (Kim and Sarah Oliver and Heather Lutgring), who all continue with the original mission: to promote a dignified, independent lifestyle within the community through the provision of skilled health care services. Since also adopting the private duty caregiving component, Columbine strives to promote the same safe, dignified, independent lifestyle within the community through the provision of homemaker and supportive care.

Columbine provides skilled home health care, private duty/companion services, regular wellness clinics at multiple area senior centers (Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Parachute) and efforts to develop and maintain community relationships.

Services include skilled nursing, physical and occupational therapies, home health aides, social work, companion services and other private pay care/support. A plan of care is crafted based on the client’s needs. This may include meal preparation, shopping, running errands for the client, light housekeeping and an exercise program. A spirit of companion services is powerful to the client who may be isolated.

Memory keeping, gardening and active listening as a client remembers portions of her life can do wonders to uplift the client’s mood.

The organization collaborates regularly with area hospitals (Valley View, Grand River, Aspen, Vail, Grand Junction and Denver area hospitals), a myriad of human services organizations, area doctors, long-term care and assisted living facilities from Aspen to Parachute, and other service and care-related entities that serve this area.

Doctors, hospital discharge planners, other community providers, insurance companies and families refer clients to Columbine Home Health.

Columbine serves approximately 800 people each year, between skilled and private-pay clients. A portion of their clients are physician-directed, with short-term rehabilitation issues or long-term disease management; others require private duty/companion services to help with bathing or medication reminders.

Clients can use time at Columbine’s wellness clinics to get their toenails clipped and their feet massaged, services that can help them feel pampered once in a while and ease the tension.

“Our biggest challenge right now is being reimbursed for services already provided ” Medicare and insurances do not always pay for services we determine to be necessary for our patient’s well-being,” said Hans Lutgring, MSW, director of clinical services. “Our executive director spends lots of time crafting appeals to Medicare and insurance companies, explaining our services are clinically appropriate for the client.

“Our health care providers allow people to stay home who would otherwise need institutionalized care,” Lutgring continued. “Clients look forward to our visits. A therapist will stop by the client’s house to make sure he has his medications; a health care aide may drop off a few groceries; or a nurse can give a bed bath or shower to the client.

“We work closely with hospitals and doctors with their surgery patients, to take blood draws to see what is going on clinically. Those clients can remain at home and get therapies at home. Otherwise, the client would have to go out to doctors’ and therapy appointments.”

It is reassuring to a client and his family that a qualified professional will be there to check up on him, someone will connect and build a relationship with him, and the client feels safe and well-cared for. Sometimes that’s all a person needs ” the ability to move around the house safely and a connection with a caring person ” to remain independent at home.

Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column runs in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent every other Wednesday. She is the media coordinator for the Garfield County Human Services Commission. To contact her with a news tip, call 384-9118 or e-mail

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