Visiting Nurse Association honored this week

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— Nearly 50 years after it formed, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association continues to touch the lives of Routt- and Moffat-county residents.

"We're the equivalent of a health department, a homecare agency and a hospice for the area," NWCOVNA Executive Director Sue Birch said. "There probably isn't a person in this valley who doesn't get touched by our services."

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association joins other visiting nurse agencies from around the country this week in celebration of National Visiting Nurse Association Week.

National Visiting Nurse Association Week seeks to raise public awareness about community health care and the role visiting nurses play in providing comprehensive, affordable services in Routt and Moffat counties, Birch said.

"Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association provides Routt and Moffat county residents with high-quality, affordable, community-based health care," Birch said. "We have also catered to the changing needs of the region by designing outreach programs to address current public health issues such as becoming the region's bio-terrorism site."

Birch said NWCOVNA is unique to other visiting nurse associations in that it tends to start a lot of local health-based programs, such as a dental van, a tobacco coalition, Yampa Valley Partners and diabetic education programs.

"We're like an incubator. We form them and they go on to create their own successful non-profits," Birch said of some of the programs initiated by NWCOVNA. "We're an essential community service, in my opinion."

NWCOVNA operates on an approximately $3 million annual budget and continues to "hold its own" despite federal and state budget cuts, Birch said. About 70 percent of budget revenue is generated from fees for service, 20 percent from government contracts and 10 percent from donations.

The agency is heavily supported by local chapters of United Way, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, local businesses and private donors, Birch said.

NWCOVNA employs 70 workers and has a base of between 50 and 100 volunteers to help the agency provide services to "an area bigger than the state of Connecticut," Birch said.

The non-profit, community-based health care organization annually provides services to more than 20,000 clients in the northwest corridor of the state, Birch said.

NWCOVNA will kick-off National Visiting Nurse Association Week with open houses at its Craig and Steamboat offices. Open house visitors can expect to find wellness information, brochures detailing NWCOVNA programs, tours of the facilities and an opportunity to meet with agency staff.

Craig's open house is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at 745 Russell Street.

Steamboat's open house will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on May 12 at 940 Central Park Dr. in suite 101.

For more information about services provided by the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association call 879-1632.


-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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