November is National Home Care Month
In 1889, wealthy Denver socialites created the Flower Mission to bring assistance to Colorado’s mining camps. In 1902 it was incorporated as the Visiting Nurse Association of Denver, Colorado’s first home health agency.During November, National Home Care Month, members of the Columbine Home Health team want everyone in the Roaring Fork Valley to be aware of the high quality services they provide to help homebound patients. The agency has received 20-30 referrals per month from physicians, for a total of 251 clients in 2004.Twenty-five dedicated employees of Columbine Home Health provide services to homebound patients in the valley. Dr. Gary Knaus is the medical director and oversees the services of certified practitioners, care managers, home health aides, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and a social worker. He consults with employees on tough decisions and supports the agency if an ethical dilemma arises.The staff consists of skilled nurses who assist with a variety of needs including medication, pain control, diabetic teaching, wound care, and case management. Home health aides are regularly supervised by a registered nurse and assist with bathing, skin and wound care and exercise programs. Physical therapists assist patients to function independently or within the limits of a physical condition, including joint replacement rehabilitation, stroke/neurological rehabilitation, range of motion, home safety management, gait/balance rehabilitation, muscle re-education, pain relief, and fall risk. Occupational therapists assist patient to resume daily activities including dressing, meal preparation, and home safety management. Speech therapy assists patients with communication and swallowing. Medical social workers assist the patient and family in planning for long-term care, including financial arrangements, guidance and counseling.The agency also offers a series of senior wellness clinics, including toenail clinics, blood pressure clinics and fall prevention. The clinics target other risks and give safety tips, and stroke and heart disease information. Clinics are free, but donations are gladly accepted. The agency recommends those who plan on attending a clinic call in advance to schedule appointments.Prior to founding Columbine Home Health, certified adult nurse practitioner Sarah Oliver and registered nurses Heather Lutgrig and Kim Oliver operated Heritage Home Health. “We wanted to give back to our local community by serving the pioneers of the area,” said agency director Kim Oliver. “Thus we did some soul-searching and decided to start our own nonprofit, home health agency where we could keep our integrity and maintain our commitment to our patients’ needs. It was through our experience there [Heritage Home Health] that we discovered the unmet needs of our areas’ seniors and disabled… Our goal is to keep seniors and disabled adults in their homes and out of institutions as long as they can safely remain at home, while maintaining the highest quality of health care possible.”Celynn Krueger has been the agency’s social worker for the past two and a half years. “We work at Columbine because we like to make a difference in people’s lives,” Krueger said. “Whether it is taking a patient’s blood pressure or helping them make their environment safe, we are dedicated health-care providers. My goal with patients and caregivers is to get them connected with the appropriate resources and support so that they can remain at home.”Kay Vasilakis’ column “Nonprofit Spotlight,” appears every other Wednesday. For news tips and inspirations, please call 984-2308.Kay Vasilakis’ column “Nonprofit Spotlight,” appears every other Wednesday. For news tips and inspirations, please call 984-2308.
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