Local: VNA receives $187,000 in grants from Colorado Trust | SteamboatToday.com

Local: VNA receives $187,000 in grants from Colorado Trust

— Over the next two years, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will receive $187,500 for improvements in health care. Much of that money will come from two $75,000 grants from Colorado Trust to address problems related health care access in Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Jackson counties.

Suzi Mariano, Northwest Colorado VNA’s public information coordinator, said the planning for the grants was a long time in the making.

Mariano said Colorado Trust funded a six-month planning period to write the grant, but representatives from Routt and Moffat counties were meeting well before that.

Carrie Godes, VNA’s director of community care, said that when representatives from Routt and Moffat counties got together, she realized that health care access was a valley-wide problem.

“It became something far bigger than just us,” Godes said. “The problem is there is no way to get affordable health care.”

When the four counties got together, there were a lot of things to be worked out.

“We got together in Hayden and started talking about needs,” Godes said. “We had a huge list of priorities.”

After working together for six months, the group submitted a four-point plan to Colorado Trust.

Mariano said the group wants to make a map of the four counties and determine where services are available and where needs aren’t being met.

“We may have a lot of services in one area, but they may not be the right services,” she said. “We are also going to develop an interactive Web site with a list of providers and services. People don’t really realize what services are out there.”

The VNA also wants to work on community outreach programs to target specific issues.

A technology team that can assess what technology is available and what is needed was also included in the plan.

Mariano said technology improvements are necessary to reach rural areas and alleviate isolation barriers.

Godes agreed that getting health care to rural areas is a problem the VNA would like to solve.

“We are talking about having someone who can travel and hit some of these areas,” Godes said.

She added that the VNA would also like to see some improvements in communication technology as well.

“Even if we can’t be on site, we should still be able to help,” she said.

Mariano said that there should be an increase in communication between Routt County and the other three counties. That should help identify and fill the gaps in services. Mariano said that when the grants run out in 2 ½ years, the VNA can apply for another grant.

Godes said that the next step for the VNA is to hire a consultant to get the project on track.

“That is the biggest step because this is such a huge project,” Godes said.

Steamboat Pilot & Today intern Jake Flax contributed to this article.

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