Home Health and Hospice services return to Grand County

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by Marissa Lorenz
Namaste Home Health and Hospice, a well-established provider of rehabilitation and end-of-life services in the Front Range, will begin providing home health, palliative, and hospice care to Grand County residents as early as next week.

The county has been without these critical services since November of last year when Northwest Colorado Health, based in Routt County, terminated their services, citing difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified nursing staff and a subsequent inability to provide quality care.

But while Namaste is aware of the challenges, they are ready and excited to take them on.

Founded in 1998 by a group of hospice professionals, the goal of Namaste has “always been to provide excellent hospice care
to the underserved,” according to a recent blog post.

“Since then, we have provided care to people who live under bridges and those who have no funding or insurance,” it continues. “Namaste has continued to find other ways to support those who were not receiving home health, palliative, and/or hospice services. We believe that everyone deserves these services as these services greatly improve quality of life.”
And when Shannon Winegarner, Namaste Director of Clinical Services and former Steamboat resident, heard that Grand County was once again without these vital services, she approached her organization about how they could potentially fill the gap.

The organization jumped on board the idea, immediately drafting a plan to address the need, according to Jackie Zinkgraf, Namaste Administrator and Director of Operations.

Soon after, the organization saw a community request for services come through the Colorado Hospice Association.
“To hear the need expressed by the community just pushed us to make it happen faster,” says Zinkgraf.

That plan comes to fruition next week, when Winegarner, as a newly-established resident of Hot Sulphur Springs, will
lead the rollout of Namaste’s Grand County programming.

Winegarner earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing and master’s degree in nursing leadership from Regis University in Denver. She has worked in home health care for over 20 years and in hospice since 2002. She will initially serve as nurse for all of Namaste’s local programs–home health, palliative, and hospice care–being on-call 24/7.

“Shannon believes in patient care so deeply and wants everyone to have a good experience, regardless of who they are or what their diagnosis is,” Zinkgraf says of Nurse Winegarner. “She’s the person you’d want caring for your loved one when they need it.”
“I am incredibly passionate about the opportunity to provide life-changing services to Grand County, and become a part of the community,” Winegarner affirms. “I have spent the bulk of my career serving the rural population and look forward to using my passion and experience to offer services that allow patients to be able to age in peace in their own homes, making decisions about their own care.”

Namaste’s plan, however, is to recruit local clinicians for part-time, full-time, or as-need employment opportunities. “It is important for us to be enriching the community we’re in,” observes Zinkgraf, “through our services and economic opportunity.”

Zinkgraf says that Namaste has already interviewed some Grand County nurses and therapists and is looking for a social worker, chaplain, and local support from physicians. In the meantime, she assures that the organization’s Front Range team will “fill in any gaps,” including their two physicians, Drs. Christopher Horton and Collette Robinson.

Namaste programs will provide a full array of professional services, offering critical care to valued friends and family members and offering career opportunities within the local community.

Namaste’s Home Health program will offer skilled nursing and/or therapy care to individuals in their home, most commonly following hospitalization and/or surgery. It is intended to aid a patient in returning to “a prior level of well-being” where ongoing care is not necessary.

The Palliative program will offer a “safe place to process illness with a collaborative team of medical professionals”–specialists in chronic illness and end-of-life care. It will provide ongoing care that helps to educate patients about chronic or terminal illness and how to manage their symptoms moving forward.

Patients and their families will work directly with a palliative nurse practitioner, social worker, and/ or nurse who will become known to them through regular visits in the home setting. This team will collaborate closely with primary care physicians and specialists, providing recommendations for care.

And Namaste’s Hospice program will be dedicated to providing maximum comfort and safety to terminal patients in their end-of-life stages and who have chosen to not continue non-curative treatment.

A medically-directed interdisciplinary team–composed of a hospice nurse, social worker, medical director, certified nursing assistants, chaplain (if desired), volunteers, and the patient’s primary care physician and specialists–will work with the patient and family (blood family or heart family) to provide support and ensure the greatest comfort, dignity, and quality of life for the patient’s end stages.

“Once the patient is comfortable, the hospice team then focuses on preparing the patient and loved ones emotionally and spiritually for death.”

Bereavement services will continue for the “family,” a process that is made much easier given the relationship-building that has already taken place, notes Zinkgraf, who admits to being particularly passionate about hospice care.

“The longer a patient is on hospice, the better the outcome for the patient and the family,” she stresses. “If you already have trust with the team, it’s easier to be open about how you feel. It is so much more engaging when you’ve built those relationships.”

In all, Zinkgraf summarizes, “We are excited to bring additional value to the entire community, whether that’s helping with rehab potential, end-of-life experiences, or creating jobs. People have already welcomed Namaste with open arms. It’s been a really awesome process so far and beautiful to see the community reaching back.”

Indeed, County leaders anticipate the start of services on July 6.

“Excellent news!” said County Commissioner Kris Manguso upon the program’s announcement.

“We are thankful Namaste has decided to provide services in Grand County,” adds Commissioner Rich Cimino. “It is best when private enterprise in a free and open market provides services that otherwise would not exist. Welcome, Namaste!”
Namaste is a for-profit agency, working with Medicaid, Medicare, and contracted private insurance companies to fund patient care
and cover operational costs. Additional profit is put back toward patient care, supporting the needs of indigent persons.

They operate the nonprofit Namaste Angel’s Foundation to help with non-medical needs of patients, such as a tablet for a homebound individual during COVID restrictions and an air-conditioner for a patient with COPD.

To learn more about Namaste Home Health and Hospice and their available services, to donate to the Namaste Angel’s Foundation, or
to join their care team, find them on Facebook or at namaste-health. com or call 970-744-3996.