Home Health Care Services on the Wane in Rural Colorado
by Grace Herndon
Oct 29, 2009 | 2041 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Remarkably, the Telluride Foundation, and its leader, the equally remarkable Paul Major, have just come up with a $1 million-grant over two years to develop this area’s sagging and moribund economy. That’s jobs, sustainability. But why the Telluride Foundation – not the fuzziest San Miguel County group to those of us who Telluriders often call “Westends,” and who still may see mining and milling uranium and low-level toxic waste disposal as their best, long-term economic salvation.

But there it is, folks. Thanks to the Foundation and the federal stimulus bucks it’s bringing in to help develop the economic potential of west San Miguel, Dolores and neighbors. I salute you, Paul Major, and the Telluride foundation. Farsighted. Far out! Well, here in the Norwood and the San Miguel area, we’re about to lose our home health care. Some 30 or more patients with chronic home-nursing needs expect to be cut off from this critical home care such as changing dressings for chronic infections; respiratory conditions, physical handicaps and the like. While hospice home health will continue, another fed Medicare program, Alpine Home Health Care, will end Nov. 15.

What’s happened here? What I’ve discovered initially, is that hospice – essentially federal Medicare, “end-of-life care” and Alpine Home Health Nursing Service, a separate, corporate or independent home nursing service – have operated cooperatively and smoothly, sharing offices and staff, but now that’s coming to end.

Or would, except that a handful of local health-care professionals, highly experienced home nursing experts and business whiz Doug Avery, elected officials and others, are talking short-term plans to save home health care here.

San Miguel County Commissioner Joan May’s Oct. 22-email says our county board has been alerted to this issue, and staff, including Social Services Director Allen Gerstle, are looking into solutions. May says: “San Miguel County absolutely needs home health nursing services.”  Some ideas: Create a new, local, nonprofit, hire local staff (Telluride Foundation, stimulus-money jobs?). Tie in with an existing nonprofit, volunteer civic organization that does home health care and knows how to do this. Norwood’s Doug Avery is highly experienced in home nursing care. Pick his brain.

For now, though, perhaps through political clout – persuade the feds to back off from some of their Medicare restrictions temporarily, while we figure this thing out. Somebody call U.S Congressman John Salazar for help. If we can’t temporarily save home nursing care locally, how can we save National Health Care reform?  

Let’s talk.
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