In-home health in the High Country |

In-home health in the High Country

Special to the Daily

May was a good month for Bristlecone Health Services. The organization was listed in the top 500 of the top-performing home health care agencies within the United States.

Bristlecone Health Services works within Summit County to provide home health and hospice services to the mountain community. Until recently, Bristlecone was the only organization to offer such services in this area.

Bristlecone serves patients of all ages, sending professionals out to the patient’s home for specialized care. Home and hospice care incorporate monitoring injuries, assisting with I.V. medications, meal preparation, rehabilitative exercise programs, personal needs, end-of-life care and more.

In 2008, Bristlecone formed a partnership with Centura Health at Home, which serves patients throughout the state of Colorado. Its employees include more than 1,000 nurses, therapists, social workers, aides and chaplains.

Moving up on the list

For the past seven years, the National Resource Corporation, also known as OCS HomeCare, and DecisionHealth gather data about the nation’s home health care agencies and compile a list of the top performers, which they label HomeCare Elite. The list is divided into three basic categories — the top 100, the top 500 and the top 25 percent in the nation. Ranking is decided by analysis of publicly available performance data regarding quality outcomes, patient experience, quality improvement, financial performance and process measure implementation.

Last year, Bristlecone was named in the top 25 percent. This year, it moved up to the top 500 ranking.

Asa Armstrong, development officer of the Bristlecone Foundation, said the strong relationship that Bristlecone has with its patients is likely one of the reasons behind the organization’s HomeCare Elite ranking.

“It’s so much about patient satisfaction and that’s such a critical gauge of the overall quality of home health care. So basically, higher patient satisfaction is associated with higher quality of patient safety and patient outcome and overall quality,” she said. “The staff of Bristlecone Health Services, they’re so dedicated to the people here in Summit County and the neighboring communities and it really shows.”

Sandie Willis, Bristlecone site manager, agrees.

“Bristlecone Health Services has a team of wonderful people who love what they do and are extremely knowledgeable in home care and hospice services,” Willis stated in an email. “The caring component is so strong here; it’s truly a loving family of people working to provide the best care possible for those we serve.”

Connecting to the community

Currently, Bristlecone employs 14 professionals to provide home health care to Summit and occasionally the surrounding counties. Last year, Armstrong estimated that these professionals made about 4,200 visits to patient homes.

Many of the Bristlecone employees work other health-related jobs within the community, a factor which Lloyd Michell says contributes to the level of quality care. He gives the example of a physical therapist who also works at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.

“She’s a great addition that helps continuity of care, so people coming out of the hospital get to be seen by people they already know and I think that has an impact on our patients,” said Michell, previous site manager and currently a physical therapist with Bristlecone.

“So we’re connected to the community and to the other services that are being provided in the community to these same patients in multiple ways,” he added. “I think it helps the quality of the advice they’re being given, because we have experience in other areas and it overlaps many times, so it all fits together.”

Receiving the high ranking from HomeCare Elite stands as a measure to the Bristlecone employees’ dedication to their jobs, Armstrong said.

“The staff here just take such pride in what they do,” she said. “For the community to see the trust and the quality of care that Bristlecone provides, it means everything. It’s just who they are, who Bristlecone Health Service is.”

Michell emphasized that while good patient outcome is always the focus, it’s nice to have the recognition that the list provides.

“We get the rewards from our patients doing well and their appreciation,” he said, “and here’s another way that we get to see that we’re doing a good job, so it’s nice that we get that feedback.”

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