Northwest Colorado Health: Daffodils a cheerful way to give to a good cause in the Yampa Valley
Daffodils are a sure sign of spring. For many people in the Yampa Valley, they also are symbols of hospice and the love, comfort and connections made possible by end-of-life care.
The annual Hospice Daffodils fundraiser returns March 13. The event supports Northwest Colorado Health’s hospice program, which is available to anyone who needs it and celebrates the many patients and families who benefit from hospice services.
“I hear from a lot of people about the positive experience they’ve had with hospice,” said hospice volunteer Ed Koucherik, who helps sell daffodils in Craig. “They appreciate the opportunity to give back, and it’s extremely gratifying for me to hear how we’ve helped.”
Northwest Colorado Health has provided hospice in Moffat and Routt counties for more than 25 years and expanded services to Grand County in 2015. Grand County residents, volunteers and businesses will be participating in the Hospice Daffodils fundraiser for the first time this year.
Hospice is available to patients who have a life prognosis of six months or less. Hospice teams include a medical director, nurses, certified nursing assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists and volunteers. They are available 24-7 and work together to manage patients’ pain and symptoms and ensure caregivers have support in caring for their loved ones.
Koucherik has experienced hospice as both a volunteer and caregiver. He understands well the compassion and dedication involved in providing this type of care.
Koucherik and his wife, Shannan, began volunteering for hospice in Craig more than 10 years ago. When Shannan fell ill, Ed found himself in the caregiver role, consumed by the task of taking care of his wife. He had little time to manage his own stress and worries, which were overwhelming at times.
“Sometimes, you feel like you’re not doing anything right. I kept thinking ‘I should have done this or that differently,” he said. “There’s a lot of emotional stuff that goes on when you’re watching someone decline.”
Hospice helped relieve this strain and allowed Ed to take a step back to relax and spend quality time with Shannan. He found solace in working with hospice bereavement and spiritual care staff, who listened to his concerns and helped him manage his stress and the grieving process.
“If you’re smart enough to listen, their advice can be very helpful,” he said. “They know what you’re going through.”
Grief support is available to families for a year after a loved one’s death, and more than 30 Moffat County families benefitted from hospice bereavement services last year. Health insurance does not cover this type of support, and insurance reimbursement for other expenses, such as medications, oxygen and equipment, often falls short. Hospice Daffodils and private donations help cover this gap.
After taking some time off from volunteering following Shannan’s death, Ed Koucherik is back to spending time with hospice patients and helping with hospice fundraisers. His dedication reflects the commitment all hospice volunteers and staff have to their patients and the program.
“Together, we have a lot of history and expertise. It’s extremely important to be able to share and learn from each other,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to be part of this. “
Hospice Daffodils arrive on March 13. They can be purchased now online at northwestcoloradohealth.org/daffodils. Delivery is available for orders of 10 bunches or more and will occur on March 12. For more information, call 970-871-7609.
When it opens later this year, the Memorial Regional Health medical office building will recognize supporters with a hand-forged iron tree of life.