Breckenridge nurse seeks to be an ‘advocate’ for patients with new health care consulting business
Through holistic patient care, Lauren Jefferson Health and Wellness Consulting aims to change the paradigm of traditional medical practices
Breckenridge resident Lauren Jefferson is no stranger to loss.
After working nursing jobs across the country, she returned home to Summit County in 2017 to care for her father who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She remembers having to wave to him through the window that separated them during the COVID-19 pandemic — an event she also worked through as a nurse at Centura St. Anthony Summit Hospital near Frisco.
It was these experiences that Jefferson said fueled her desire to start her own practice, Lauren Jefferson Health and Wellness Consulting, which seeks to provide intimate, one-on-one work with patients pursuing physical and mental care.
“When someone’s in their most vulnerable, terrifying moment in life, I want to be there helping them,” Jefferson said. “COVID exacerbated a problem that already existed: There’s not enough time.”
Through her practice, Jefferson said she can offer patients far longer discussions about their health care needs and decisions than what they may receive in a doctor’s office. Jefferson meets with clients three times every four weeks for roughly an hour. During these meetings, she’ll walk patients through different options they can pursue based on their health care needs so that they can make an informed decision.
Jefferson, who received her nursing degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2014, said she knows the gap that can form between patients and their health care provider due to short discussions and differing views on what is best practice. For this reason, patients often need an advocate for them both inside and outside the doctor’s office, Jefferson said.
“Sometimes, doctors press patients to go in a direction that they’re comfortable with but which may not be in the best interest of the patient,” she said.
Jefferson used the example of someone dealing with the end of their life who may be unsure what the best path is for them. It could be pursuing procedures and treatments or accepting end-of-life care at home or in hospice, Jefferson said. Along with one-on-one meetings, Jefferson also accompanies patients, either in person or virtually, during their doctor’s visits.
Lauren Jefferson Health and Wellness Consulting provides price plans to clients on a sliding scale based on their needs, according to owner Lauren Jefferson, with an average price of about $175 per hour for a full service. Jefferson also offers a free 50-minute consultation.
For more information, go to LaurenJJealth.com/about or contact Jefferson at email@example.com.
Chic Older, a part-time Summit County resident who served as executive vice president for the Arizona Medical Association for more than 30 years, said this kind of health care approach serves an essential need for some patients — especially as seeking health care becomes more and more complex.
“Having an advocate who is willing to help go through a complex system is an essential thing,” Older said. “It could make the difference between whether you get the care that you need or getting lost in the system like getting lost in a maze.”
Older, who during his career would visit Summit County frequently, knew Jefferson’s dad, whom he called a “big part of Summit County life” and met Jefferson at the beginning of her career when she was deciding to enter nursing school.
“I was really impressed with her commitment to the profession, even at an early age,” said Older, who eventually helped to fund Jefferson’s business so it could launch. “It was a great opportunity, in my mind, to help someone in the county who was providing a service that I thought was desperately needed.”
Beyond just identifying a patient’s problems, Jefferson said her practice seeks to understand how symptoms can be indications of broader issues, both physically and mentally.
This more holistic approach, Jefferson said, stems from her training to become a nurse coach. After she completed a six-month-long certification program under the American Holistic Nursing Association, which she began in March 2021, Jefferson was granted the ability to start her own practice as a nurse coach.
Dori Welsh, also a nurse at Centura St. Anthony and a colleague and friend of Jefferson, said she became interested in the nurse coaching course — and its philosophy — after speaking with Jefferson about it. Welsh said she went on to take the course in June 2021.
“We love what we do, but often times it felt like the job was unfinished or that we could be doing more for people,” Welsh said, adding that her training as a nurse coach equips her to look at patients through a multifaceted lens that focuses on preventative, not just reactive, care.
Welsh said Jefferson couldn’t be a better fit for that type of approach.
“She’s able to meet people where they are,“ Welsh said. “I’m so happy she’s doing this and getting it to be a movement in this area.”
Jefferson said she hopes work like hers becomes more prevalent in the health care industry as illnesses and other health-related problems are often a result of intertwined and compounding problems — such as a patient’s unprocessed grief — that can manifest in the body.
“That piece absolutely affects physical health and I have the capacity to be there with people when they’re going through loss and grief,” Jefferson said. “I’m hoping that medicine looks more like this in the next 10 to 15 years.”
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