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Proposed treatment center at Moffat County School District Yampa Building expected to attract out-of-town patients

Memorial Regional Health’s proposed substance abuse treatment center would draw patients to Craig from other parts of the state, according to email correspondence about the project.

A new MRH-backed treatment facility called Providence Recovery Services of Colorado, will move into the almost 100-year-old building located at 755 Yampa Ave. if the Moffat County School District Board of Education follows through on a proposal to donate the building to MRH the green light at the board’s Thursday, June 20 meeting.

On May 15, Marlin Eckhoff, Craig and Moffat County regional building official, emailed Donald James “Jim” Blackwood, an administrator for Sunflower Management Group, one of three out-of-state private partners planning to guide the treatment center from an idea to reality, regarding questions the Planning & Zoning department had yet to have answered.

“It says that the facility will “primarily” serve NW Colorado, approximately what percentage of the participants are expected to be from out of town?” asked Eckhoff. 

On May 18, Blackwood responded that the answer is “hard to project.”

Treatment CDP 061919 1 by Andy T Bockelman on Scribd

“Initially, 100 percent will be within an hour or two driving distance from Craig,” Blackwood said. “The number of patients from out of town will increase once the sober living component is fully operational. Of 40 potential patients living in sober living, we believe 50 percent will be from a distance further than an hour or two drive, and hence need living accommodations, which the sober living component provides.”

Eckhoff asked if participants are charged a fee for the sober living rooms, if the rooms excluded children, where the clients will live when they are off-site, and if there is any transportation that will be provided for off-site clients.

The sober living rooms will cost $750 a month, Blackwood said, a cost “typically paid out of pocket by the patient, not paid by insurance.”

Children and spouses will not be allowed to live in sober living residences, he answered. The $750-a-month sober living residences “will likely be a requirement for admission to the program” for patients coming from out of town and those who have been in recovery for only a short time, according to Blackwood. 

Transportation within an hour or two drive would be available through Providence Recovery Services of Colorado, he said. SMG is working on obtaining grant funding for peer recovery coaches to provide rides in their personal vehicles, he said.

Providing the building transfer continues, the treatment center is slated to open this summer, according to a two-page overview of the facility. Providence would provide an “intensive outpatient program,” three hours a day for three days a week; a “partial hospitalization program,” described as six hours a day for five days a week; medication assisted treatment; telemedicine; a “wilderness component,” and “Sober Living” dorm areas to accommodate a maximum of 20 men and 20 women, according to the document. 

In an April 29 email to Moffat County commissioners, Eckhoff described comments he’s received from “several people” regarding the zoning of the treatment center.

“All occupants will be allowed to come and go as they please, and the dorm rooms will be similar to a boarding house where they share facilities,” he wrote. “While we do not have any designation for ‘Rehab Facility’ in our Land Use Code, I believe the proposed use would be classified as a ‘Convalescent Center,’ which according to the sections I attached is a permitted use in this zone. I have done some research and have found that many of these facilities are in residential areas of other municipalities.”

Treatment CDP 061919 3 by Andy T Bockelman on Scribd

Eckhoff commented further on the project stating that the treatment center would be “an allowed use,” with which he believed planning and zoning officials would concur.

Treatment CDP 061919 4 by on Scribd

“The ones I spoke to there at one of the planning and zoning meetings at this time, regardless of their personal feeling about whether it’s a great location, they agreed that that is what that should be labeled as and that it would be a permitted use in that zone,” he said. “From everything we’ve come up with so far it does meet the zoning requirements of mixed-use as far as I’m concerned.”

Treatment CDP 061919 5 by on Scribd

MRH CEO Andy Daniels said he “has no further comment about this topic at this time.”

The Board of Education will decide on the proposal to donate the Yampa Building to Memorial Regional Hospital in exchange for a discount on health-related services over the next three years.

The next public BOE workshop and regular meeting will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 20 at Colorado Northwestern Community College.

Living Well: Embracing the natural stages of the dying process through hospice care

When patients need hospice care, family members and other loved ones often feel overwhelmed with emotion. A caring and supportive hospice team can help alleviate some of these feelings.

We asked Kristine Cooper, executive director of Home Health and Hospice at Memorial Regional Health, to help readers understand more about hospice care at MRH and how it affects patients’ families.

What are some ways that hospice care can relieve stress for those who may be in charge of an elderly loved one?

Kristine Cooper: Hospice really provides support not only to the patient but also to the caregivers. We have nurses that spend time with caregivers, educating them about the disease and dying process. We also have our LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) who spends time with the patient and caregivers, discussing end-of-life planning. She also works with caregivers and families to address anticipatory grief.

Are there any myths about hospice care you’d like to clarify?

One myth would be that hospice hastens death. Hospice really embraces the natural stages of the dying process and neither intends to hasten or prolong death. Our team partners with the patient and family on the journey. Another myth is that hospice is expensive. Medicare actually covers the cost of hospice, including medications to treat symptoms related to the patient’s terminal diagnosis as well equipment needed to care for the patient safely in their home.

Why is it important for families to know about hospice care?

Hospice is not about giving up hope, it’s about refocusing hope. With hospice, there is hope that pain and other symptoms can be managed so that loved ones can live their best life in their final days. Hospice also offers hope to families and caregivers by providing support during this difficult time.

When is hospice care is necessary?

Hospice is here for patients who have been diagnosed with a life limiting or terminal illness with a life expectancy of 6 months or less to live.

What kind of care do hospice patients receive?

Hospice provides nursing,emotional and spiritual support. Hospice can also provide support from physical, occupational and speech therapy with the focus of helping patients move safely. We also have volunteers that can provide companionship and assist with light housekeeping and cooking. All these different services make up the patient’s care team that works closely with their doctor. The overarching theme about hospice is that it is really about what the patient or family needs.

What else would you like readers to know about hospice care at MRH?

Even though this is a new service offered by MRH, the team has extensive experience in home health, hospice, wound care and grief support. We take seriously the honor and privilege to serve our community in this capacity and have elevated our level of service to earn our accreditation through ACHC (Accreditation Commission for Health Care).

Murdoch’s donates to Memorial Regional Health’s newest building

The Memorial Regional Health Foundation received an extra boost in its campaign to raise $1 million in community donations to help fund the completion of MRH’s newest medical office building. 

Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply donated $2,500 to the foundation, a move which strays from the company’s typical agriculture-related philanthropy. 

“We are at $901,000 right now from donations from corporations like Murdoch’s, but I have to say we feel very honored to receive this donation from Murdoch’s because this is kind of beyond their funding priorities,” MRH Foundation Director Eva Peroulis said. 

Local Murdoch’s manager Lee Anne Schmid presented a check on behalf of Murdoch’s to MRH CEO Andy Daniels, Peroulis and MRH Foundation Vice President Ashley Kawcak Wednesday. 

“Murdoch’s feels like health care in a small community like Craig is important, and they want to see it grow,” Schmid said. 

Peroulis is still accepting new campaign donations.

“The building is going to be done on August 30 so we still have a few more months to reach our goal,” she said. 

When completed, the new medical office will house MRH’s physical therapy department, a pharmacy with a drive-through window, an infusion clinic, orthopedic surgeons, primary care physicians and administrative staff. 

Those who donate to the foundation’s campaign will receive an engraved leaf to be added to a donor recognition wall once the project is complete. 

For more information, contact Eva Peroulis at 970-826-2424 or email eva.peroulis@memorialrh.org.

CPW euthanizes mother doe, spares fawns after deer attack in Craig

A Craig woman was hospitalized after suffering serious injuries in a deer attack at Sunset Meadows senior living facility.

According to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, CPW officers responded to the senior living facility Wednesday afternoon to find a doe with two young fawns had attacked and injured an 85-year-old woman as she was walking her dog.

“Officers believe the woman and her dog surprised the animal, leading to an unusually aggressive response by the doe,” CPW’s release said.

Craig Police Department Capt. Bill Leonard said his agency responded quickly and secured the scene for wildlife authorities.

“We responded to the call initially and kind of maintained the scene until they arrived,” Leonard said.

The woman had serious injuries and she was quickly taken to Memorial Regional Health.

“She had some pretty serious injuries on scene,” Leonard said. “I know they were definitely concerned in getting her loaded and transported.”

Additional details on the woman’s condition at MRH were unavailable.

The release said CPW would be euthanizing the mother doe, but not her fawns, which will be taken to a local rehabilitation facility.

“The doe’s carcass will be taken to CPW’s Wildlife Health Lab for a full necropsy,” the release stated.

Following the incident, Mike Porras, CPW’s Northwest region public information officer, said putting down an animal in this context isn’t easy for CPW officers.

“It’s the hardest part of their jobs, but they will fulfill duty to protect the public,” Porras said.

The doe’s rare aggressive behavior, the risk that behavior poses to the public, and the need to rule out the possibility of disease were the driving factors behind the decision to put the doe down.

“Sometimes it allows us to conclude why an animal behaved the way it did,” Porras said of the doe’s coming autopsy.

Relocating animals to an isolated area away from humans isn’t always an option, according to Porras.

“In a state with a growing human population, those areas are getting harder and harder to find,” Porras said.

Even if CPW had relocated the animal, Porras said the agency wasn’t willing to risk the animal repeating its actions in the future.

“If we move this animal to an area and it has another encounter with a person and it seriously injures or kills a person, our agency is responsible,” he said.

Porras had a warning for frontier communities like Craig and Moffat County, that predators are usually waiting nearby when deer are present.

“The fact there are deer in Craig should certainly give people pause,” Porras said. “…Lions eat deer. If there are deer in the area, lions probably aren’t too far behind.”

He said it’s important for Craig residents to do their part to keep wildlife wild — don’t feed town deer and don’t approach them, either.

“Don’t feed deer and don’t feed any wildlife,” Porras said. “Don’t approach, don’t feed, don’t harass — whether for a selfie, or they think they can pet it, or they think they’re one with the animal. It’s dangerous.”

Porras pointed out Craig isn’t the only one experiencing dangerous human-wildlife interactions on a regular basis.

“It’s not just Craig,” Porras said. “There are a lot of communities in the same boat for the same reasons.”

Seniors holding Wii bowling tournament

Senior citizens at Sunset Meadows I in Craig aren’t letting their age stop them from enjoying some digital fun.

Craig’s senior living center will be holding a video game bowling tournament on the Nintendo Wii system at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 26 at 633 Ledford Street in the second floor library.

Though the group has held tournaments in years past complete with prize money and other assorted swag, this year promises to have at least a dozen bowlers competing. The group will have free pizza.

Any senior citizen is invited to come and learn how to bowl on the Nintendo Wii.  

Boys & Girls Club of Craig to blossom with summer garden project through MRH, CSU Extension Office

Memorial Regional Health received a $2,500 grant this spring from the Colorado Garden Foundation to partner with Boys & Girls Club of Craig and create, plant, and maintain a community garden for Moffat County children during the summer of 2019, according to a news release from MRH.

The local branch of the Colorado State University Extension Office is also serving as a volunteer partner in this project, as are several community members.

Five health care professionals from MRH will assist in the implementation of all project goals, objectives, and outcomes: occupational therapist Susan Jones, physical therapists Jenna Kaspari and Carol Sitlington, speech-language pathologist Jenna Harrison, and registered dietician Madysen Jourgensen.

The team will start working with local club members on June 18, with sessions from 10 to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer for eight weeks through mid-August, with one week off for the Fourth of July.

The planters provided by sponsors will feature different vegetables, fruits, flowers, and other plants. Garden activities and lessons will range from hydration and personal nutrition to identifying plants and seeding, watering, and weeding.

“The garden planters will allow for smaller groups and individualized attention,” the release stated, noting the club’s membership of about 90 kids per day. “The planters will also help the project promote hands-on healthy living activities, theme-based monthly foods, eventual samples of fruits and vegetables, and general horticultural-related education, all through the lens of children-focused activities. Further, the project will incorporate all the benefits of regular occupational therapy, including fine motor and visual perceptual skills, visual processing and sensory integration; physical therapy, with work on proper range of motion, balance and coordination, and gross motor skills; speech therapy, with focus on language fluency, word-finding, and social communication; and dietary coaching, including healthy foods and eating habits.”

Living Well: Getting your heart rate up with fun outdoor activities

The classic times of the year when people start thinking more about diet and exercise are the New Year and summertime. Thankfully, summer in Colorado includes a myriad of outdoor activities that get your heartbeat up, all while including a healthy dose of fun.

More than 70 percent of adults over the age of 20 in America are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Moffat County, about 24 percent of adults are obese, higher than the state’s obestiy rate of 20 percent.

Ericka Lucas, PT, DPT, physical therapy manager at Memorial Regional Health, said the key to incorporating fitness into your lifestyle more regularly is to find something that makes it interesting for you personally.

“Being outside to exercise offers the benefit of vitamin D from sunlight, and fresh air is energizing,” she said.

Summer activities

With so many beautiful spots for recreation in the area — Lucas’s favorites are Loudy Simpson Park, Sand Rocks, Black Mountain and Cedar Mountain — there are plenty of things to do outside.

Hiking or walking on uneven surfaces and at various inclines is helpful for challenging balance and strength, while walking in general is a great way to elevate the heart rate, Lucas said.

“Walk with a friend, walk in a park, listen to music or a podcast. To increase the heart rate, try walking in intervals where you alternate walking at moderate and higher paces — this helps time pass faster, as well,” she said. “Biking can be great for working on balance and cardiovascular health.”

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain, and combined with healthy nutrition, it can help maintain weight loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, don’t stress if you can’t find a large chunk of time to get to the gym every day — “any amount of activity is better than none at all.”

Regular exercise also helps combat health problems such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, depression, many types of cancer, high blood pressure, arthritis and more. The Mayo Clinic reports that exercise can also improve cognitive function, lower the risk of death from all causes, boost energy, improve mood and promote better sleep, among other benefits.

Set summertime goals

Lucas recommends that anyone looking to get into better shape this summer should set specific goals to work toward.

“Have an accountability partner,” she said. “Get creative in mixing up types of exercise and locations to stay interested.”

Anyone embarking on a new fitness routine or incorporating more activities into a previously sedentary lifestyle should always talk to their healthcare provider first. Starting a new routine can be great for long-term health, but going about it too quickly can have negative consequences.

“Be sure to start gradually as to avoid injury, and pay attention to your what your body tells you after each time you exercise,” Lucas said. “Don’t forget hydration and stretching are an important part of reaching your goals.”

Living Well: Men don’t visit the doctor for regular check-ups as often as they should

Men are 80 percent less likely than women to seek regular, preventative health care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This tendency to avoid preventative check-ups could be responsible for some alarming health statistics. For example, men die five years younger on average than women, and men also die at higher rates from nine of the top 10 causes of death, according to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Men are also more likely than women to smoke, drink too much alcohol and make unhealthy or risky choices, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

During June, the same month as Father’s Day, medical providers around the country are reminding men that regular, preventative health screenings can save lives.

Preventable death and disease

Many of the leading causes of death among men — heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes and suicide — can be prevented. The first step is seeing a doctor for regular checkups and health screenings. These screenings could be the preventative maintenance that’s needed to someday save your life.

Different health screenings may be required, depending on personal and family medical history, as well as age. Your doctor can help guide you to determine which medical screenings are appropriate for you.

A 2017 survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians found that 52 percent of men reported getting a physical exam in the past year, up from 45 percent in 2007, so the preventative healthcare trend is heading in a positive direction.

“I think of prevention in two baskets: the preventive services you can get if you went to the doctor or went to see a nurse, like vaccines and blood pressure screening; and there’s also what I think of as lifestyle prevention, the decisions we can make in our own lives around diet, around physical activity, around the precautions we take to prevent injury,” former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told Men’s Health magazine in 2015.

A good example of how prevention improves outcomes is diabetes, according to Memorial Regional Health. If you catch diabetes in its early stages, as pre-diabetes, you can halt its progression and, sometimes, even reverse it. Think of the diagnoses of pre-diabetes as a wake-up call to take action and correct the issue before it becomes full-blown diabetes.

Cancers in men

For cancers caught before they’ve spread to other parts of the body, the chance for full recovery and survival are often high. According to the National Cancer Institute, there is substantial evidence that regular exercise lowers cancer risk.

The cancers that most often affect men are prostate, colon, lung and skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Cancers that affect only men are prostate, testicular and penile cancers.

Symptoms include:

  • Testicular cancer: Pain, discomfort, lump or swelling in the testis itself, aching in the lower abdomen (belly).
  • Penile cancer: Redness, discomfort, sore or lump on the penis.
  • Prostate cancer: Weak flow of urine, blood in urine, pain in the back, hips or pelvis (lower belly between the hips), or needing to pass urine often.

The risk of getting prostate cancer increases with age. Men who have a family history of prostate cancer are also at an increased risk. The American Cancer Society recommends talking to your doctor at age 50 about the pros and cons of a prostate cancer screening.

Colon cancer almost always starts with a polyp, or small growth on the lining of the colon or rectum, which can be found early before they become cancer through proper preventative screening. The American Cancer Society recommends regular screenings starting at age 45.

Dinosaur’s EPA grant dollars will help fund community center

The Environmental Protection Agency has some late spring cleaning in store for the town of Dinosaur.

In a news release Wednesday, the EPA announced it awarded Dinosaur a Brownfields grant worth $200,000 to clean up some nine acres where a school building sits near a playground, baseball field, and a basketball court.

“The building was constructed in 1962 and has been vacant for more than a decade,” the release said. “The town recently had an environmental assessment completed of the property through the EPA Targeted Brownfields Assessment program, which identified various contaminants of concern, including metals, PCBs, and inorganic materials.”

In an interview Wednesday moments after the grant award was announced, Dinosaur Assistant Town Clerk Linda Hedge said they had just heard about their winning the award.

“I haven’t even informed the town council yet,” Hedge said.

Nonetheless, Hedge is excited about the grant helping her small town get a new community center, which is the plan for the site.

“I’m excited about it,” Hedge said. “I know this is really going to be an asset to the town.”

In its statement, the EPA said was among 149 communities selected to receive grant awards totaling more than $64 million in Brownfields money.

“EPA Brownfields grants are helping Colorado communities address environmental hazards and create new amenities that bring people together,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “We look forward to the cleanup of the former Dinosaur School property and its revitalization as a much-needed community center.”

Northwest Colorado Health: Aging Well offers community connections

Community connections can make us feel happy, accepted and less lonely. Sometimes, connections turn into friendships that fill a void left by those we have lost.

This is the case for Anita Reynolds, a lifelong Craig resident and coordinator of Northwest Colorado Health’s Aging Well program.

“I’ve lost my parents and grandparents, and have missed that connection in my life,” she said. “Working with seniors has helped fill that space and allowed me to continue friendships with older adults in the community who I’ve known for a long time.”

Aging Well has provided exercise and wellness opportunities for older adults in Moffat County for more than 10 years. You can find seniors participating in a fitness class, senior wellness clinic or foot care clinic somewhere in the community nearly every day.

Reynolds has been involved in the program since 2015. She has experienced and seen the benefits of the social connections that grow between participants.

“They just enjoy being together. It gets them out of the house and together with others who are the same age and have the same interests,” she said.

Reynolds now coordinates all aspects of the program, including schedules, venues and instructors. She also teaches classes, including a summer Aquatics class that started this week at the Craig Pool Complex.

Aging Well exercise helps improve strength, flexibility and balance and is available to seniors of all fitness levels and abilities. Some older adults participate well into their 90s.

The program has developed a loyal following. More than 270 people participated in Aging Well activities in Moffat County in 2018.

The most popular program, Wellness Wednesdays, offers a full day of activities including exercise, lunch and a guest speaker. Seniors also can check in with a nurse, who will check their weight and blood pressure and review their medications. Foot care is available by appointment.

Aging Well programs are available throughout the community thanks to partnerships with organizations including St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Sunset Meadows, Senior Social Center and the City of Craig.

“These partnerships are huge,” Reynolds said. “Without this collaboration we wouldn’t be able to pull together as a community to offer these services to older adults.”

Exercise classes and senior wellness checks are available for a $3 suggested donation (no one is turned away due to inability to pay). There are fees for foot care and lunch at Wellness Wednesdays.

For more information, call 970-871-7676. To see a full schedule of Aging Well programs, go to northwestcoloradohealth.org/agingwell.

Tamera Manzanares is Marketing Coordinator at the Northwest Colorado Health. She can be reached at tmanzanares@northwestcoloradohealth.org or 970-871-7642.