Last updated 7:25PM ET
December 11, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
LaPlata Program Reaches Out To Seniors
(2007-12-17)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: While efforts to improve local health care in Durango and LaPlata County continue, one program is quietly underway to insure that at-risk seniors don't fall through the cracks.
Funded by the Colorado Trust, the Senior Outreach Nurse program has already touched hundreds of lives.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: A Senior Strengths and Needs Assessment Survey conducted in LaPlata County in 2004 found one-fifth of all seniors get little or no social support from friends or family.
Isolation poses challenges for those individuals in accessing needed services, especially medical care.
The LaPlata County Senior Outreach Nurse Program, is designed to address those needs.
It was funded earlier this year by the Colorado Trust, to the tune of 245-thousand dollars for four years.
Registered nurses Tracy Davis and Brenda Isgar job share the full time outreach position, to help assess health and quality of life needs for those over 60, especially those living in rural areas.
Recently I joined Davis on a visit to one patient.
On our way in the car, she talked enthusiastically about the job.
DAVIS: AT FIRST I THOUGHT THAT IT DIDN'T SOUND INTERESTING, THAT IT SOUNDED LIKE A SOCIAL WORKER POSITION. AND I WANTED TO BE A NURSE BUT THEN I GOT TO THINKING ABOUT IT AND TALKING ABOUT IT WITH BRENDA ISGAR AND WE STARTED BRAINSTORMING AND THOUGHT WE COULD REALLY HELP A LOT MORE PEOPLE. WE ALL KNOW ABOUT VALLEY WIDE HAVING CLOSED, WELL THEY SERVED MOST OF OUR MEDICARE, MEDICAID PATIENTS SO THE LOW INCOME AND THE SENIOR CITIZENS. AND SO IT BECAME A PROBLEM, THERE WAS NOT ANY DOCTORS OFFICE IN THE AREA THAT WAS ACCEPTING MEDICARE PATIENTS. SOME OF THEM LIVE IN RURAL AREAS AND LIVE ALONE AND TRANSPORTATION IS A PROBLEM, ALSO SERVICES LIKE WHEELS ON MEALS MAY NOT REACH OUT THAT FAR, SO I GO AND TRY TO FIND THEM AND ARRANGE RESOURCES SO THEY CAN GET THEIR HEALTH NEEDS MET AND OTHER NEEDS MET, LIKE MAKING SURE THEY HAVE NOURISHING MEALS EACH DAY, AND THAT THEIR HOME IS CLEANED OR THAT MAYBE SOMEONE CAN COME AND HELP THEM TAKE A BATH SO THEY CAN STAY IN THEIR HOMES AND LIVE A HEALTHY AND SAFE LIFE. NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO GO TO A NURSING HOME. SOME PEOPLE ARE HAPPY WITH THAT ARRANGEMENT OR REQUIRE THAT ARRANGEMENT BUT THERE ARE MANY WHO PREFER TO LIVE OUT THEIR LIVES IN THEIR HOME, ESPECIALLY PEOPLE WHO'VE LIVED FOR GENERATIONS IN THE AREA. IT MAKES SENSE BECAUSE IT'S LESS EXPENSIVE TO THE TAXPAYERS, ULTIMATELY, TO KEEP PEOPLE HEALTHY IN THEIR HOMES.
As we near the home of Gregorio Trujillo, Davis tells me each visit usually brings a surprise of some sort.
DAVIS: THERE WAS A GENTLEMAN, AND I WAS TOLD THAT HE WASN'T EATING WELL, THAT HE COULDN'T AFFORD TO FEED HIMSELF AND HIS TWO BELOVED HORSES, SO I CONTACTED SOME FRIENDS THAT I KNEW, OR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS SOME HAY AND WE GOT PEOPLE FROM THE COWBOY CHURCH TO DONATE 40-BALES OF HAY FOR THAT GENTLEMAN FOR CHRISTMAS. THAT WILL HELP HIM FOR A FEW MONTHS, TO BE ABLE TO EAT BETTER AND KNOW THAT HIS HORSES ARE CARED FOR. OUR GOAL IS TO REACH 40-PEOPLE A MONTH, THAT WOULD ADD UP TO ABOUT 2-THOUSAND PEOPLE OUT OF THE SIX THOUSAND FOLKS OVER THE AGE OF 60 IN LAPLATA COUNTY OVER THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.
Many of you have probably seen Trujillo.
Almost daily, when the weather is good, the World War Two Vet, Leadville, Colorado native and longtime Durango resident can be seen pedalling down Third Avenue in the morning to his sister's home for breakfast.
He's waiting for us when we arrive.
DAVIS: THERE HE IS...HELLO GREGORIO.
TRUJILLO: COME IN IT'S COLD OUT THERE.
DAVIS: LET'S GO UPSTAIRS TO YOUR APARTMENT.
TRUJILLO: HAVEN'T BEEN FEELING TO GREAT THIS MORNING, GETTING KIND OF DIZZY.
DAVIS: DID YOU EAT?
Trujillo turned 89 last month, is paralyzed on the left side from a stroke and is diabetic.
Keeping up friendly banter, Davis wastes little time assessing his health, and seeing to his needs.
DAVIS/TRUJILLO EXCHANGE
After phone consultation with Trujillo's doctor, and a check of any other needs he may have, and the visit is over.
As Davis and I depart, Trujillo follows us out the door to amble over to a nearby restaurant for a mid afternoon repast
Davis reflects on her job, which she admits is part social work, but she's still practicing nursing.
DAVIS: NURSES ARE THE MOST TRUSTED OF OCCUPATIONS IN THE WORLD. AND I BELIEVE THAT TO BE TRUE. WE HAVE A VERY VERY POSITIVE RECEPTION. I THINK OUT OF THE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE THAT I HAVE CONTACTED, TWO HAVE DECLINED OUR VISITS. PEOPLE KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A NURSE, THEY KNOW THAT WE'RE THERE TO BE THEIR ADVOCATE. AND WE GO IN AND WE DO CHECK THEIR VITAL SIGNS. AND IF WE FIND ANYTHING OUTSIDE OF NORMAL LIMITS WE CALL THE MEDICAL DOCTOR AND WE MADE THE ARRANGEMENTS NECESSARY...SO WE STILL DO PRACTICE NURSING.
If you or someone you know could take advantage of the Senior Outreach Nurse program, simply call 749-4007.
Their services, are free.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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