Phil Castle, The Business Times
Its name has changed and soon, too, will its headquarters.
But the objective of a Western Colorado health care agency remains unchanged, according to its chief executive officer. “We have the fundamental belief people deserve to heal at home,” said Charleen Raaum, CEO of SummitWest Care.
Home health care is not only preferable to most patients, but also offers what are generally better outcomes at lower costs, Raaum said. “It’s a better way. It works. It’s affordable.”
Those are important considerations at a time when an aging population is expected to impose unprecedented demands on health care in the United States, she added.
What was Home Care of the Grand Valley has been rebranded as SummitWest Care to reflect what Raaum said has become a more regional effort. While SummitWest Care remains headquartered in Grand Junction, the agency operates a satellite office in Glenwood Springs and extends services to a five-county region of Western Colorado that includes not only Mesa and Garfield counties, but also Eagle, Gunnison and Pitkin counties. About 260 caregivers work in that region, she said.
SummitWest Care is growing in other ways, Raaum said, in soon moving into new offices on the remodeled second floor of a building offering 15,000 square feet. That’s five times the space the agency now occupies in a smaller building just off North Avenue.
SummitWest Care offers a range of skilled care and non-medical support to patients in their homes, Raaum said.
Skilled services include physical, occupational and speech therapies as well as well as disease management, tube feedings and wound care. Services often are provided to older clients who need additional care after a surgery or injury or as the result of a disease, Raaum said.
SummitWest provides other skilled care services, including those related to newborn and pediatric care, she said.
SummitWest Care works with doctors, hospitals and others to coordinate care and bridge gaps, Raaum said. The agency also can administer medications, monitor the health of a patient and alert doctors to any issues that arise. “We’re eyes for the physicians.”
SummitWest also provides nonmedical services, among them light housekeeping, shopping, meal preparation and assistance with such daily activities as bathing and dressing.
In addition, SummitWest can help connect patients with additional resources, such as transportation.
The overall goal, Raaum said, is to help people remain in their homes, whether they’re recovering from a medical problem, dealing with a chronic disease or simply need a little help.
Keeping people at home and out of hospitals, skilled care facilities and emergency rooms is not only preferable, but also far less costly, Raaum said. “It’s a no-brainer.”
That need is great, she said, in the Grand Valley and elsewhere.
SummitWest Care expanded into Glenwood Springs in 2017 after Columbine Home Health closed after 20 years of operation. The former staff of Columbine Home Health was hired to continue providing services.
The SummitWest Care operation since has expanded further to serve an even larger geographic area, Rauum said.
Additional growth could occur for SummitWest Care in not only its service area, but also its programs and partnerships with hospitals and physicians, she said. “Nothing’s off the table.”
An aging population drives increasing demand, Raaum said.
But one estimate, 10,000 members of the baby boom generation reach their 65th birthdays every day. “It’s a tsunami that’s hitting.”
That presents problems in not only hiring enough health care providers to meet demand, but also finding ways to pay for care, she said.
SummitWest Care can play an important role in meeting health care needs, Raaum said.
Moreover, the caregivers who work for the agency bring to that task a combination of competency, compassion and commitment, she said. “They can feel our passion and energy. It’s a labor of love.”
For additional information about SummitWest Care, call 263-0202 or visit the website located at www.summitwestcare.com.