Reframing CVNA’s Strategic Plan

It’s time to think differently about aging.

As Colorado VNA’s CEO, I think about aging and the perception of aging a lot given that over 75% of patients we serve are 65 and older. In fact, in partnership with our Board of Directors, our organization has begun to update its strategic plan beginning with our mission, vision, and values. This was encouraged largely by the realization that our patient demographics are changing and that the over-65 population will grow dramatically in Colorado over the next several decades (it is estimated that one in four Coloradans will be 60+ by 2040).

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject of aging, too, and recently I was introduced to The FrameWorks Institute” Aging Toolkit which is the result of a strategic analysis into the “communications aspects of aging issues.” This toolkit provides a set of tools and “guidelines that help [organizations and people] work more intentionally and strategically to advance the conversation about older people in the United States.”

Further, the Aging Toolkit challenges all of us to re-frame how we think about and communicate aging in America. The developers assert that the:

“public must come to appreciate that well being is influenced by a range of social policies (e.g., health care policies, tax policies) and social structures (e.g., the way American communities typically arrange housing and transportation) and, crucially, that these aspects of society can be changed with respect to aging.”

The Aging Toolkit provides excellent guidance for policy makers and healthcare decision makers – and I would argue that the Toolkit also provides inspiration and guidance for service providers like CVNA, particularly now as we examine our programs as part of our strategic plan overhaul and think about how we will communicate our updated focus in the coming months and years.

The most significant correlation between the Aging Toolkit and CVNA’s updated mission comes from the Toolkit’s Eight Themes for a New Frame on Aging. The themes provide guidance on useful ways to boost the general public’s knowledge of and focus on aging issues and to build support for future policies and practices that encourage an “age-integrated” society.  The theme that most resonates with CVNA is Ingenuity:

Ingenuity: Americans are problem-solvers. When we see an opportunity, we figure out how to seize it—and when we see that something isn’t working, we rethink our approach. Replacing outdated practices with new, smarter ways of doing things is the key to our nation’s ingenuity.

CVNA has identified a new core purpose – our most fundamental reason for being, why we exist and the guiding statement that underlies everything CVNA does – as part of our strategic planning process, and ingenuity is woven into its foundation:

CVNA provides the most appropriate range of health care solutions to allow people to maximize independence and to heal and age at home.

By developing and utilizing diverse tools, competencies, and capabilities to offer a “range of health care solutions” that help a person remain in the home while they heal and age – and knowing said tools, competencies, and capabilities will differ for each and every person we serve – exemplifies an ingenious spirit and approach to older adult health care.

As an example, CVNA is one of Kaiser Permanente’s primary home health partners in Colorado, and we work continuously with them to develop new and creative ways to transition people home from hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and rehabilitation facilities all within the intricacies of the Kaiser system, the Medicare regulations by which we are governed, and the requirements of being a licensed provider of home health. The work we do to help Kaiser patients heal in the home is vastly different than what we do to support our Area Agency on Aging clients that need in-home support services to remain independent. Simply put, helping older adults remain in the home is complex and requires ingenuity.

In addition to this purpose, CVNA has defined four core values that reflect our deeply held convictions and priorities.

  1. Provide health solutions that enable people to function as independently as possible in their homes and communities.
  2. Deliver high quality care that is cost effective with high patient, employee, provider and insurer satisfaction.
  3. Provide high-acuity and individualized healthcare in the home.
  4. Maintain a culture of opportunity and meaningful work.

In these core values we also see the strong connections to the Aging Toolkit’s ingenuity theme.

The final part of CVNA’s new strategic plan is our two key goals for the next ten years. The first is our aspiration to become a nationally recognized leader in the provision of home and community-based care that maximizes independence. We will achieve this goal by continuing to improve the quality of the care we provide as measured by our patients and Medicare Home Health Compare. We will also do this by developing innovative care and support models that help people remain independent like our CAPABLE program and our new telehealth program.

CVNA’s second and just-as-important goal is to become and stay financially stable for the coming years and decades. As I wrote about here, financial stability is difficult in this time of limited reimbursement. Fortunately, our organization has been blessed with excellent leaders in the past who made decisions to purchase buildings at 390 Grant Street in Denver and 2400 Clubhouse Drive in Greeley. Recently, we decided to sell our Denver-based headquarters and move to a new building in Arvada in December 2017. This sale and move allows us to put some reserves in the bank as well as build out a custom interior that will make more efficient and creative use of space, allow for best-in-class clinician training rooms, and overall provide a healthier workplace for our employees and visitors. Stay tuned for more updates on the new building in the coming months.

CVNA is preparing for an uncertain health care future, as well as a major demographic shift, by utilizing tools such as the Aging Toolkit and seeking guidance from organizations like the FrameWorks Institute. Individually and collectively we need to tap into our ingenuity to create adaptable health solutions that help adults remain in the home.

The Dentists of Feet: How Colorado VNA is Keeping Feet Healthy

Wanda Wofford, RN at the Glenarm Foot Care Clinic

Wanda Wofford, RN at the Glenarm Foot Care Clinic

Over the last two decades, we’ve come to understand that oral health means much more than healthy teeth. As the American Dental Association states “Your mouth is a window into the health of your body” and regular visits to a dentist allow for a view into general health and wellness. Similarly, foot care is about so much more than simply clipping toe nails, especially for older adults and those with diabetes. Our feet often reveal signs of disease such as nerve disorders, gout, arthritis, melanoma, and heart disease. Feet can tell us about the state of our circulation and the condition of our thyroid. Our feet falter when our shoes are too tight, our toenails too long, we don’t moisturize our skin, and problems such as ulcerations and infections go unnoticed and untreated.

This is why for over 30 years Colorado VNA registered nurses have been providing foot care, and why we believe foot care should be an integral part of preventive care for older adults and those with diabetes.

The highest risk group of patients for foot maladies is diabetic patients. The CDC has reported that over 29.1 million people, or 9.3% of the US population, have diabetes. In Colorado, more than 19,000 adults were diagnosed with diabetes in 2012 and there is belief that as many as 100,000 or more Coloradans could be unaware that they have diabetes. Further, nearly 33% of adults age 65+ have diabetes. According to the Indian Health Service ~40% of people with diabetes will develop nerve damage in their feet, ~20% will have an acute foot problem, ~15% will develop a serious wound (costing about $13,000-$30,000 to treat), and 5-10% of people with diabetes will progress to amputation (at a cost of about $50,000). Indeed, the most common cause of hospitalizations among persons with diabetes is diabetic foot problems, including ulcerations, infections, and gangrene.

Almost all of the above conditions can be prevented or diagnosed early with primary care and the care that Colorado VNA provides at its 150+ foot care clinics across the Front Range. While clients attend clinics for various reasons – difficulty bending over for self-care, trouble finding a family member or friend to assist, limited hand strength due to arthritis, etc. – all receive the same high-quality and comprehensive RN visit that entails:

  • medication reconciliation;
  • blood pressure monitoring;
  • a foot exam for inspection for any discoloration, swelling, corns, calluses, or other changes of the foot, ankle, and leg below the knee including identifying cancers of the nails and skin;
  • trimming, cutting, clipping, and debridement of nails;
  • minor buffing of corns or calluses (if applicable); and
  • hygienic and preventive maintenance care such as cleaning the feet and testing for neuropathy (nerve damage).

Further, our nurses have repeated contact with their clients over long periods of time, sometimes years, and are in a good position to note health changes that may go unnoticed during routine medical visits, such as darkened nail beds that could be early signs of melanoma.

To continue the dental care analogy, Colorado VNA’s nurses provide both the routine care AND assessment for the need for more specialized care provided by podiatrists, surgeons, cardiologists, and other medical specialists. Colorado VNA’s nurses are also an extension of these specialists as they assist with administering care plans in an effort to keep patients healthy and on their feet. Colorado VNA has also started offering more complex foot care services, such as the use of dremels, which are provided by nurses certified by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board. And, just in the last year, Colorado VNA has begun providing foot care in the home when patients are home bound and meet appropriate Medicare guidelines.

Routine foot care is a little understood and often undervalued part of the healthcare system.  Too many older adults turn to nail salons where they run the risk of being exposed to improperly cleaned tools and technicians that are not trained to look for ingrown, overgrown, and thickened toenails as well as fungal infections. Over the next year Colorado VNA will be gathering more clinical data in an effort to demonstrate improved health outcomes such as decreased falls, fewer serious wounds, decreased hospitalizations and/or surgeries resulting in amputations, and better compliance with care plans, as well as higher patient satisfaction. Each month, Colorado VNA cares for more than 1,000 clients, which allows us to generate an incredible wealth of data to share. We are confident that our foot care service is keeping individuals healthier and independent longer. Stay tuned for further updates on our foot care services in the coming months!

For more information about our foot care clinics or to schedule a visit, please call 303-698-6496 or visit https://vnacolorado.org/medical-foot-care-program/.

Stay Motivated to Reach Your Ola Ala Goals!

Are you on pace to reach your goals in a few more weeks?

ola ala

Excitement and energy may wane after starting a new program; stay motivated with these tips:

  • Invite team members to write a success story about what they’ve achieved, with advice to inspire other participants.
  • Sign up for the Denver Alzheimer’s Walk on September 17th here. Whether it’s a 5K walk, 10K run, or mini-triathlon, you’ll have a blast training — and crossing the finish line.
  • Put good health on your vacation itinerary. There’s no need to halt your Ola Ala progress when you head out for rest and relaxation. Plan ample opportunities to hike, swim, or snorkel.
  • Celebrate Ola Ala milestones. Brainstorm fun activities that support your active, healthy lifestyle with family, friends, or colleagues — like going to the aquarium, holding a Wii sports tournament, or hosting a Hawaiian lunchtime potluck.

Have another great idea to share on exercising? Share them on the Life Path Posts.

Keep up the great work!

What To Ask To Find The Right Home Health Care Provider For You

whattoask

At Colorado Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) we know that inviting someone into your home to care for you or your loved one is an incredibly important and personal choice. Having the right person can make the experience more pleasant, ensure the appropriate services and in many cases even reduce the likelihood of hospital re-admission. Whether you’re looking for home health care or non-medical support knowing what questions to ask can help ensure that you receive quality assistance.

What To Ask To Find The Right
Home Health Care Provider For You

If you’re recovering from surgery or need long-term care for a chronic illness — or you have a loved one facing a similar situation — you might be interested in home care services. Home care services range from skilled care provided by nurses or therapists to household support, such as cleaning, cooking and running errands. If you’re considering home care services, ask these questions to choose the best provider for your needs.

Qualifications

If you’re considering a home care services agency:

  • Is the agency licensed by the state? Most states — but not all — require agencies to be licensed and reviewed regularly. Reviews might be available through your state health department.
  • How long has the agency been in business?  Experience is one way to measure reliability.
  • Is the agency certified by Medicare to meet federal requirements for health and safety? If not, ask why.
  • What type of employee screening is done? Background and drug testing may go a long way toward your piece of mind.
  • Can the agency provide references? Ask for a list of doctors, hospital discharge planners or other professionals who have experience with the agency.

If you’re considering a home health aide:

  • What are the aide’s credentials? If he or she claims to be licensed, check with the licensing body.
  • Can the aide provide references from at least two employers? Check them thoroughly.

Be sure to ask your or loved one’s doctor, family and friends for recommendations.

Quality of care

If you’re considering a home care services agency:

  • How does the agency train, supervise and monitor caregivers? Does the agency provide continuing education?
  • Are the caregivers licensed and insured?
  • Do the agency’s employees seem friendly and helpful?

If you’re considering a home health aide:

  • Does the home health aide have a positive attitude?
  • Are you and your loved one comfortable with the home health aide?

Costs

If you’re considering a home care services agency:

  • How does the agency handle expenses and billing? Ask for literature explaining all services and fees, as well as detailed explanations of all costs associated with home care.
  • Will agency fees be covered by health insurance or Medicare? Check to see what kind of coverage your health insurance offers.
  • What resources does the agency provide for financial assistance, if needed? For instance, is a payment plan available?

If you’re considering a home health aide:

  • How much does the aide charge for home health services? Make sure you’re comfortable with the fees and the included services.
  • Does the aide require payment for sick days, vacation days or holidays? If so, clarify how many sick and vacation days are allowed, as well as which days are considered holidays.

Understanding services

Whether you’re considering a home care services agency or a home health aide, you might ask these questions about services:

  • Will you receive a written care plan before service begins? The care plan should include details about medical equipment and specific care needs, contain input from the doctor, and be updated frequently.
  • Will you receive a list of the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved? This is sometimes known as a patient’s bill of rights.
  • Will you or your loved one be referred to dietitians, counselors, therapists or other specialists, if needed?
  • Will the agency work directly with you or your loved one, family members and health care providers?
  • Must you identify a primary family caregiver? If so, what’s required of that person?
  • When will service be provided? Is care available round-the-clock, if necessary?
  • What procedures are in place for emergencies? Ask how the agency or home health aide will deliver services in the event of a power failure or natural disaster.
  • How are problems addressed and resolved? Whom can you or another family member contact with requests, questions or complaints?
  • When can services begin?

Monitor your home care services

After you’ve found a home care services provider, monitor the situation. If you’re concerned about the care or services provided, discuss it promptly with the agency or home health aide. If necessary, involve your doctor or your loved one’s doctor as well.

Post updated from article by Mayo Clinic.

Founded in 1889, Colorado VNA is Colorado’s first nonprofit home health care agency and provides expert care throughout the care continuum: wellness, home care and hospice services. For the past three years Colorado VNA has been awarded Home Care Elite Status by the National Research Corporation for placing in the top 25% of home care agencies based on health performance measures.

Colorado VNA earned a four star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) for quality patient care, and is licensed by the State of Colorado to provide home health care. Colorado Visiting Nurse Association is accredited by the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP), a national, independent, nonprofit accrediting body for community-based healthcare entities.

Ola Ala Employee Online Fitness Program

Get Off to a Great Start with Ola Ala

ola ala

With the launching of Ola Ala July 19th, employees all over Colorado Visiting Nurse Association are on their way to better well-being. (If you haven’t registered yet contact Aubri at TharpA@VNAColorado.org.)

Get off to a great start with these tips:

• Hold weekly meetings to recognize accomplishments and discuss your Ola Ala strategies as well as how you can make more progress along the trail.

• Search Recipes for delicious new dishes that will help you eat more fruits and vegetables.

• Go for a walk or bike ride after dinner, enjoy a weekend swim, or invite coworkers to join you for a Saturday hike.

• Learn about new activities to try, like geocaching, kayaking, or hula dancing.

• Start or join a team like our medical records department did, U ‘i pinao, which is Hawaiian for Beautiful Dragonfly. Challenge other participants to see who can stay ahead on the team leader board.

• Rally your coworkers. Invite others to join you for a lunchtime walk or festive Hawaiian shirt contest.

As you embark on the Ola Ala journey, join the conversation — visit Life Path Posts to find healthy lifestyle tips, share wellness successes and challenges, and encourage other participants.

Colorado VNA’s Role In Colorado’s Growing Senior Population

By Chris Lee, President and CEO

The State of Colorado is grappling with one of the fastest growing older adult populations in the country. The Colorado State Demography Office estimates [that the] “aging of the younger population, especially the ’Baby Boomers’ …, is forecast to increase the population over 65 by 150% between 2010 and 2030.”[1] The numbers will grow from 550,000 people over 65 in 2010 to 1.2 million in 2030.

Healthy-Aging-in-Colorado-Infographic-high-resolution2
infographic1

Fortunately, Colorado is not leaving future administrations to deal with the challenges. Our State has created the Strategic Action Group on Aging, in addition to other initiatives, to get out in front of aging-related challenges. The Group’s initial ideas on how to address the challenges associated with a rapidly aging population are detailed in the Colorado Aging Framework, which includes 10 distinct goals that the State aims to achieve. Colorado VNA is a leading partner in the efforts to support the needs of older adults. We are evolving existing services and creating deep partnerships with a variety of stakeholders to position ourselves as a critical provider of older adult services.

In particular, three of the Aging Framework goals directly relate to our work:

  • Goal 3: Strengthen support systems and environments that enable individuals to remain in their homes and communities as they age.
  • Goal 5: Support health care programs and services that provide a continuum of care to Colorado citizens as they age to give individuals the right services at the right time.
  • Goal 7: Promote support for caregivers, including family caregivers, to support citizens as they age

Goal 3 articulates several strategies that are focused on strengthened supportive services for older adults so that they can remain in their homes and communities, one of which “make home-maker services available to support individuals’ ability to remain in their homes as long as possible” is superbly aligned with our current work. Just this past week, I traveled with one of our Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Dennis, to visit two of our veterans in their homes. Dennis visits each of these patients several times a week to help with bathing, ensuring that the care plan is implemented, and providing patient and family support. In addition to Dennis, Colorado VNA provides homemakers for these two patients as well. Our homemakers help the patients and families keep their homes clean and safe while also helping with laundry and other household tasks, activities that many of us take for granted even as our ability to conduct them declines with age. Goal 3 seeks to implement similar support functions for those individuals that may not have the resources to pay for private-pay homemakers and/or CNA services. The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) has long funded Colorado VNA to provide homemaker services to low-income and vulnerable adults, and Goal 3 seeks to provide even more support to DRCOG and ultimately Colorado VNA.

Senior Living Conditions in Colorado

Goal 5 takes Goal 3 further by identifying strategies to more closely connect homemaker services that are supported by DRCOG to primary care providers. Both of the patients I visited are veterans, and the VA has long understood the importance of connecting skilled nursing and therapy care with paraprofessional care while under physician supervision. Goal 5 seeks to create the same connections between the primary care community and the long-term services and supports (LTSS) community. Additionally, Goal 5 provides direction to study the connection between LTSS and decreasing overall healthcare cost. In summary, the State hopes to answer the question: Do the homemaker services Colorado VNA provides decrease overall healthcare spending, and if so, by how much? To this end, I have been appointed to a guiding committee that will help implement the study that will answer this question.

Healthy-Aging-in-Colorado-Infographic-high-resolution4 smallaAnd finally, Goal 7 seeks to provide more financial support and training for family caregivers as well as other non-family caregivers. Those of you who have cared for an elderly parent know just how difficult, time-consuming, and stressful it is to provide the necessary care to keep your loved one in the home, especially if you must also work outside the home to earn a living.  Goal 7 seeks to find ways to provide more support and guidance for family and friend caregiving. Though not an area we are currently operating within, Colorado VNA has the capabilities to train caregivers, as well as the necessary clinical oversight, to be a viable part of the solution for an expanded family- and friend-based caregiving network. In addition to supporting family caregivers, Goal 7 also acknowledges the need for more expansive wellness services for the elderly, services like our Senior Medical Foot Care run by our Wellness Division.

 

As you can see, there is much change in the aging landscape in Colorado. Thanks to the innovative and compassionate care of our staff, Colorado VNA is well positioned to be a part of an expanded Colorado strategy to respond to a dramatically growing elderly population.

 

 

 

[1] Department of Local Affairs, State Demography Office, July 2012, page 1

 

 

 

Colorado VNA Speaker Series 2016

Colorado VNA’s Speakers Series is designed to offer information and education to help a variety of individuals including seniors, caregivers, and health and wellness professionals navigate the changing landscape of healthcare and foster older adult independence. Admission to all events is free, but space is limited so please RSVP by visiting http://bit.ly/2cCuSmu, emailing hurdl@vnacolorado.org, or calling 303-698-6308.

Donations and sponsorships are gladly welcome. For more information, contact Jodie Deshmukh, Development Manager, at deshmukhj@vnacolorad.org or 303-698-6308.

UPCOMING SESSIONS


aging-in-placeAging and Dying In Place,
A Community Panel Conversation

6:00PM at Anschutz Medical Campus
Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities, Gossard Forum
13080 E 19th Ave, Aurora, CO 80045

Click on the flyer on the right for more information or RSVP at http://bit.ly/2cCuSmu.

PAST SESSIONS

Thursday, July 21st – Autism to Alzheimer’s
6:00 PM at Anschutz Medical Campus

Thursday, May 12thAdvance Directives: Know Your Rights, Share Your Wishes
5:30 PM at Colorado VNA (390 Grant St. Denver)

Moving from home care to home-based services

Photo courtesy of Gretta Blankenship

Photo courtesy of Gretta Blankenship

It’s time to change what we call ourselves…move from thinking of the Colorado Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) as a “non-profit home health care agency” to a “non-profit organization that provides home-based services”. This may seem like a small distinction, but it there are three reasons we should make this change:
1) “Home health care” agencies are defined by outdated Medicare regulations specifically focused on controlling home care as a way to decrease fraud and abuse within a fee-for-service payment environment.
2) Second, there is very little government and/or insurance company reimbursement for para-based services focused on helping patients remain independent in the home.
3) Further, there is very little coordination of care across our various divisions because of the differing ways we are paid for care that we provide.

The Colorado Visiting Nurse Association has begun to think differently about the care we provide as healthcare transitions from a fee-for-service (FFS) payment system to one where healthcare organizations are paid for overall care and health outcomes.
Currently there are many differences between the care provided by each of our home-focused divisions; home health, paraprofessional home services and hospice/palliative. Care provided by our home health professionals is mostly regulated by Medicare and requires patients to be “home-bound” and have a documented needed for care provided by an RN, PT, LPN, etc.

By definition, paraprofessionals are workers who are not qualified or licensed to serve in particular professions but who handle tasks in support of qualified professionals in those fields. Paraprofessionals often work alongside fully qualified professionals, but they also sometimes work more independently, such as in the case of the health care paraprofessionals who provide home visits to the disabled, ill or elderly.

Care provide by paraprofessionals is more proactive in nature and is provided to help patients remain independent in the home, e.g., bathing, shopping, house-keeping, getting in and out of bed, etc. Hospice visits for appropriate patients are similar to home health visits in that hospice patients have to meet strict criteria for admission, i.e. patients must have a terminal diagnosis and patients must have a prognosis of having less than six months to live.

As one can see, there is a big barrier between the care provided by paraprofessionals and home health and hospice; the barrier has to do with the strict Medicare definitions put in place to help decrease overuse and abuse of skilled home health. Bottom line: the way home health services are reimbursed in our country is too focused on decreasing costs and abuse, rather than on improving care for patients.

The good news is that the old ways of paying for the care we provide are beginning to change as Medicare begins to move to paying for the value provided in the home, rather than just for an episode of care. Here is an excerpt taken from the recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Report to Congress: Plan to Implement a Medicare Home Health Agency Value-Based Purchasing Program. The report details a summary of Medicare’s view of the problem of fraud, as well as the limited connection between payments and quality of care.

“…the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the Office of the Inspector General, the General Accounting Office (GAO), and other stakeholders have raised significant concerns with fraud and abuse in the Medicare home health benefit. While the benefit is designed to encourage teams of skilled professionals to provide patient-focused care to homebound beneficiaries, there is growing concern that the existing payment system does not provide the necessary incentives to provide such high quality patient focused care.”

There is a lot that is changing in healthcare. Care provided in the home is fast becoming of vital importance to improving the health of populations of patients.

– Christopher Lee, Colorado VNA President & CEO, July 13, 2015

Prescription drug safety starts with all Coloradans

Facebook #1 TMS 2015
In February 2015, Governor John Hickenlooper launched the “Take Meds Seriously” public awareness campaign. “Take Meds Seriously” is a new statewide campaign advocating for the safe use, storage and disposal of prescription drugs in Colorado.

Behind this vital campaign is a group called The Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. The Consortium consists of a very impressive list of community partners, each of whom is participating in one of six work groups.

According to the campaign website, “The mission of the Consortium is to reduce the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs in the State of Colorado through improvements in education, public outreach, research, safe disposal, and treatment. The goal of these efforts is to prevent 92,000 Coloradans from misusing opioids by 2016.”

Grim statistics and recent surveys reveal how pervasive prescription drug misuse and abuse is in Colorado. Thirty-five Coloradans died a month in 2013 from unintentional drug overdoses.

Gov. Hickenlooper announced on February 24, 2015, “Colorado ranks 12th in the nation for abuse and misuse of prescription drugs. This campaign is just one part of a coordinated, statewide strategy that simultaneously restricts access to prescription drugs for illicit use, while ensuring access for those who legitimately need them. The messages and tools provided through this effort will help us take on this serious public health challenge, as part of our commitment to becoming the healthiest state in the nation.”

“The Colorado Attorney General’s Office is proud to have contributed $1 million in seed money to support the Consortium’s work,” said Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. “It is fitting that funds from settlements with major pharmaceutical companies to resolve charges of misconduct are now being spent to combat Colorado’s prescription drug abuse problem.”

The University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy on the Anschutz Medical Campus serves as the Coordinating Center and headquarters for the Consortium. The aim is for the Consortium to meet specific quarterly goals in each of the six work group areas and produce a specific Colorado Plan in one year. The Colorado VNA is proud to be a public awareness advocate for this important cause.

Did you know?
• Nearly 224,000 Coloradans misuse prescription pain relievers each year. Prescription drug safety starts with you and asking questions of your physician and pharmacist.
• One out of every six of Colorado’s 12th graders has taken a prescription that wasn’t theirs. Keep your family safe and talk to your kids about the right way to use prescription medicine. Visit TakeMedsSeriously.org for safety tips and much more.
• In 2013, almost 50 Coloradans died each month from unintentional drug poisonings. Safe prescription medicine use starts with you.
• Almost half of all Coloradans have unused or expired prescription drugs in their medicine cabinets at home that can be abused. You don’t need them, so get rid of them. Learn the best way to dispose your prescription medicine at TakeMedsSeriously.org.
• 42 percent of teens who’ve misused or abused prescription drugs got them from their parents’ medicine cabinet. Have you locked up your medicine? Keep your children safe.
Start an ongoing conversation with your kids about the subject. SpeakNowColorado.org is a comprehensive website for parents that provides guidance on how to address prescription drugs, and other substances, with their children.
• There are resources in our state to help with addiction. Several agencies around the state offer help with addiction or dependency. Go to http://takemedsseriously.org/safe-use/abuse/recreational-use/ to find help near you.

To learn more about the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, visit its website and Save the Date for the group’s annual meeting this fall on October 15, 2015.

Raising awareness globally for hepatitis prevention

Photo courtesy of CDC.gov

Photo courtesy of CDC.gov

Today is World Hepatitis Day.  This global health awareness event is held annually on July 28th, the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg (1925-2011). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Dr. Blumberg discovered the hepatitis B virus in 1967 and two years later developed the first hepatitis B vaccine and for these achievements won the Nobel Prize.

Viral hepatitis is caused by infection of one of five viruses – hepatitis A, B, C, D or E. All hepatitis viruses can cause inflammation of the liver, and chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Viral hepatitis is a major global health threat with around 240 million people living with chronic hepatitis B and up to 150 million people living with chronic hepatitis C.

In order to raise awareness of this hidden epidemic, the World Health Assembly and the President of the United States have designated July 28th as World Hepatitis Day.

Organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC, use World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness of the problem and what needs to be done to strengthen efforts in prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis.

To learn more, read the press release issued today by WHO.

Colorado VNA is proud to be able to offer hepatitis vaccinations year-round via our Wellness Division.  To inquire how we can come to you to administer a workplace or community-based organization wellness clinic with seasonal flu shots, TB tests, biometrics screenings and of course, Hep B or Hep A & B vaccinations, click here.  To speak with a member of our Wellness team and to discuss pricing, call 303-698-6517.