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By John Drigot

I remember recently going home after my first day of work as the new sustainability coordinator for Poudre Valley Hospital, Medical Center of the Rockies and other University of Colorado Health services in northern Colorado.

Walking--and riding--the talk: John Drigot's commitment to sustainability even extends to his transportation. He rides a bamboo bike to work. The bike is manufactured by a small Fort Collins firm, Panda Bicycles, that use durable and renewable bamboo in most of its frame design for bikes.

Walking–and riding–the talk: John Drigot’s commitment to sustainability even extends to his transportation. He rides a bamboo bike to work. The bike is manufactured by a small Fort Collins firm, Panda Bicycles, that use durable and renewable bamboo in most of its frame design for bikes.

My overarching goal in this position is to lead the employees and organization in becoming better environmental stewards.

I felt a little like a hummingbird featured in a story told by Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental and political activist:

“We’re constantly being bombarded by problems that we face and sometimes we can get completely overwhelmed. [But] we should always feel like a hummingbird. I may feel insignificant, but I don’t want to be like the other animals watching the planet go down the drain. I’ll be a hummingbird, I’ll do the best I can.”

After my first work day, the magnitude of the task-at-hand felt daunting. UCHealth has 5,500 employees and major medical facilities spread throughout Fort Collins, Greeley, Loveland and Windsor.

Instead of saying “we are too small” or “there is too much to change,” I decided to see employees throughout the organization as “doing the best they can.”

When Garrison Keillor says, “Be well, do good work and stay in touch,” why is it so important to “be well”? Could it be that taking care of one’s self correlates with the idea of environmental stewardship? I think so.

I stumbled upon the concept of “Green Health” when I found the article “The Greening of Health: The Convergence of Health and Sustainability” put out by the Institute for the Future. The article explains Green Health as:

“The convergence of health and sustainability plays out in many ways. Scientifically, Green Health embodies the epidemiological connections between human health and the environment.”

“Culturally, it represents the understanding of nature as a powerful binding force between people, their health and the world in which they live. Socially, Green Health occurs at a nexus of morally-laden decisions about living in the world as patients, workers, consumers and citizens.”

Yes, not only are sustainability and wellness holding hands, they are hanging onto each other for dear life.

The connection between sustainability and wellness is, simply, if you care about yourself, you are more likely to care about the environment you use in your day-to-day wellness activities.

It’s good knowledge and a commendable lesson for all of us, the hummingbirds.

John Drigot, John.Drigot@UCHealth.org, is the sustainability coordinator for University of Colorado Health in northern Colorado.

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Digital media are quickly changing the way healthcare and other industries tell stories and interact with their patients and communities.

One of the newest social media toys to hit the scene is the Vine app, an iPhone app that lets users create 6-second videos to share. Vine is to video what Twitter is to text in the social media realm.

We’ve been playing with Vine over the last couple weeks and took it onto the operating room today, where marketing specialists Kory Swanson and Nikki Caputo used it to document a partial knee replacement surgery. Swanson and Caputo created seven Vine videos during the procedure, which was performed at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins.

Six seconds may not seem like much, but in most cases it was enough to capture the scene at various points of the surgery. Here’s one of those points:

Here’s another Vine of the surgery that’s slightly more graphic.

Other Vines we’ve created give health tips, like this one about making healthy food and drink choices…

…and this one, about heart health.

For more Vine videos and other great health content, follow us on Twitter @UCHealthNoCo and on Vine at UCHealth.

–Kevin Darst, director of marketing and communication

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University of Colorado Health reached a milestone Jan. 31. This was the first anniversary of the day when executives at University of Colorado Hospital and Poudre Valley Health System signed a joint operating agreement to create UCHealth.

UCHealth has grown to include Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins; Medical Center of the Rockies hospital in Loveland; University of Colorado Hospital in the Denver metropolitan area; Memorial Health System in Colorado Springs; and Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie.

Bruce Schroffel and Rulon Stacey describe University of Colorado Health to employees shortly after the joint operating agreement was signed Jan. 31 to create the health system.

Bruce Schroffel and Rulon Stacey describe University of Colorado Health to employees shortly after legal papers were signed Jan. 31, 2012, to create the health system.

From Wyoming and down the length of the Colorado Front Range to Colorado Springs, the 15,000 employees of UCHealth are working to keep their communities healthy and well.

In the last year, UCHealth:

  • completed the Lone Tree Health Center, a multidisciplinary group practice in the south Denver metro area;
  • broke ground on an outpatient cancer center in Fort Collins;
  • opened an emergency department and one-day surgery center in Greeley;
  • started construction on a multidisciplinary clinic in Boulder;
  • worked on a plan to create a branch of the School of Medicine at the CU-Colorado Springs campus;
  • announced earlier this month that it had purchased land in the north metro Denver area, with discussions on how to use the real estate now underway;
  • made significant strides in placing PVH, MCR and Memorial on the same top-of-the-line electronic medical records system so there will be seamless care regardless of where a patient is treated in UCHealth; and
  • moved forward at a quick pace to ensure that medical protocols at each hospital are aligned with those at other hospitals. This system-wide approach is important in delivering high-quality, evidence-based care to patients.

“Our goal is to keep populations of patients healthy,” said Bruce Schroffel, UCHealth CEO.

UCHealth was born out of the need to respond to changes in the national health care scene. Back in 2011 when the plan for UCHealth was under development, Schroffel was University of Colorado Hospital’s president and CEO; Rulon Stacey was Poudre Valley Health System’s president and CEO.

Schroffel and Stacey shared the belief that fundamental changes on the horizon in health care would require independent hospitals to consolidate and collaborate in order to survive.

The basic assumptions

Efforts to rein in staggering health care expenditures would inevitably lead to lower reimbursement rates from both government and private payers. In addition, health care reforms led by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services promised to reward hospitals for high-quality care and improved patient outcomes, not merely for procedural volume. Commercial insurers, Schroffel and Stacey predicted, were sure to follow suit.

They therefore sought to create a system capable not only of weathering financial challenges, but also one committed to quality clinical care and patient satisfaction.

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By Gary Kimsey

In mid-January, the Garth Englund Blood Center made an appeal through northern Colorado media asking the public to donate blood for surgical and blood transfusion patients at Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan, Loveland Reporter-Herald, Greeley Tribune, North Forty News in Larimer County, Channel 4 and 7 in Denver responded with calls for donations.

The center still needs your help, however.

[How to donate blood at Garth Englund Blood Center]

Michael Sieg, who donated Jan. 15 at the Garth Englund center in MCR, told Channel 4 that he decided to donate after hearing about the shortage. “I just think it’s one of those things you can do to help your community,” he related.

Thanks to the media’s efforts, the number of blood donations spiked upward—120 donations in the first day, compared to the daily average of 25—but the increase wasn’t as much as hoped.

“We’re asking employees to keep donating”

Part of the reason for the blood shortage is the historical post-holiday slump in donations. But this year there’s an accompanying twist: the flu. Donors who are sick or want to lay low to keep out of the flu’s way may be waiting for healthier times to roll around.

As a rule, a public appeal is the last tactic in the toolkit. If a shortage is imminent, Garth Englund staff members telephone or email people who donated before to ask them to donate now. The database totals about 59,000 donors. On the surface, that may seem like a large number of donors, but not all donate regularly and many remain one-time-only donors.

If phone calls and emails don’t bring in enough donors, appeals are then made through the company intranet and email news bulletins to University of Colorado Health employees in northern Colorado. Employees are typically willing to step up.

Appeals to staff members are often made during holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas and around July 4—and at other times when the public’s attention is drawn elsewhere than to donating blood.

As the holidays approach in mid-fall, blood supplies are bolstered by the annual Border Blood Donation War between Garth Englund and United Blood Services in Cheyenne. Each competition donor receives a special t-shirt.

From there, blood donations from community members drop off and then typically pick up in early January. But not so this year, and many UCHealth employees have helped maintain blood supplies.

“Now we’re calling on everyone to help at this critical time,” said Mandi Bornhoeft, Garth Englund manager. “Many community members have been avid donors, but we need more people to join in this important way to help others.”

“And we’re also asking employees to keep donating,” she said.

Gary Kimsey works in UCHealth’s northern marketing department.

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Poudre Valley Hospital will break ground Jan. 17 on an outpatient cancer center in Fort Collins. The ceremony will be from 12:30-1:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

The $11-million, 30,000-square-foot facility is expected to be completed in 2014. Designed in part by patients perspective, the center will have everything centralized from diagnostic services to treatment and care to survivorship.

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONYOpen to the public Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Cancer center site; 2121 E. Harmony Road, Fort Collins, CO

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY
Open to the public
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Cancer center site:
2121 E. Harmony Road, Fort Collins, Colo.

The Poudre Valley Hospital Foundation asked community members touched by cancer how to improve care. The consensus was that patients want care close to home, so they don’t have to leave their community. They prefer to have treatment, care and support at one location rather than multiple sites. A cancer patient often has 100 appointments in the first year after diagnosis, adding physical, emotional and financial stress to an already challenging journey.

To answer this challenge, PVH, part of University of Colorado Health, and the Foundation developed plans to deliver one-door access so patients will get virtually all of their treatment and care under the same roof. In addition to community feedback, hundreds of doctors, nurses and staff members contributed to the design.

“We want to provide a better cancer-care experience that meets the needs of patients all in one location,” said Kevin Unger, PVH president and CEO. “We will have everything centralized from diagnostic services to treatment and care to survivorship.”

Cancer survivor Vikki Wagner, chair of the Survivor Advisory Council, said “we are re-defining the cancer experience and making sure healing, hope and wellness are alongside great clinical treatment.”

The center will be located on UC Health’s Harmony Campus in Fort Collins, just off of I-25. Heery International is the architecture firm and Adolfson & Peterson will manage construction.

“It will raise the bar on cancer care in northern Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region,” said Unger, who chaired a community committee that oversaw planning and fundraising for the center.

To date, more than 3,500 members of the community have contributed more than $3 million to the project.

The patient-centric design fosters multidisciplinary care. In this new center, patients will often see multiple specialists in one visit, in one room. These seamless connections will promote personalized treatment strategies managed by a single point of contact from diagnosis to survivorship.

The center will provide access to:

  • Clinical research.
  • Complementary therapies such as massage and healing touch.
  • Counseling/oncology social work.
  • Genetic counseling.
  • Healing garden.
  • Infusion center.
  • Laboratory.
  • Medical oncology.
  • Pathology.
  • Patient navigation.
  • Physical rehabilitation.
  • Radiation oncology.

Learn more about the cancer center.

–Dave Rizzotto, marketing and communications

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Poudre Valley Hospital’s stroke program has been re-certified for the next two years as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center.

“It’s a great feeling to wake up in the morning and know we can make a difference,” says Georgie Knaub, nurse educator on Poudre Valley Hospital’s neuro unit. She is shown here treating a stroke patient.

The re-certification, required every two years, was done by the Joint Commission after a review of the program at the Fort Collins, Colo., hospital. PVH got the good news Oct. 9 that it had been re-certified.

Poudre Valley Hospital is just one of two Primary Stroke Centers north of the Denver metro area. Boulder Community Hospital is the other. University of Colorado Hospital, part of the University of Colorado Health system that includes PVH, is also an Advanced Primary Stroke Center.

The re-certification at PVH is due to successful patient outcomes and the high quality of physicians, nurses and other staff members involved in the stroke program, as well as streamlined processes that treat stroke victims rapidly, particularly through a stroke alert program.

Put in place five years ago, the stroke alert program has saved lives and preserved the functioning of stroke victims in northern Colorado. The program is also in place at University of Colorado Health’s other northern Colorado hospital, the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland. (Learn more about the PVH and MCR stroke programs.)

Georgie Knaub, nurse educator on PVH’s neuro unit, said the stroke program has changed the way work is done at the two northern Colorado hospitals.

“Now,” Knaub pointed out, “there are interventional tactics we can do to lessen the impact of stroke. When all the steps in the system fall into place, we can significantly improve patient outcomes. It’s inspiring to watch stroke patients walk out of here and go back to doing what they love to do.”

–Kevin Unger, Poudre Valley Hospital president

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Saturday is Drug Take-Back Day, a Drug Enforcement Administration event that began in 2010. It’s a chance for the public to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs; the event’s web site lists a number of area drop-off locations.

English: The Seal of the Drug Enforcement Admi...

Drug Enforcement Administration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to today’s Fort Collins Coloradoan, the DEA collects the discarded pills, patches and elixirs, trucking them to a $200 million incinerator in the high desert of northwestern Utah, where they’re destroyed at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit under intensely secure conditions.

It’s a perfect opportunity to explain how Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies dispose of unused or discarded pharmaceuticals to keep virtually all of it out of the trash or drain.

PVH and MCR pharmacists routinely go through medications, pulling and setting aside pharmaceuticals that are expired or can’t be used for various reasons.

Once a quarter, a company called EXP Pharmaceutical Services picks up the unused drugs and take them to EXP facilities for processing; EXP incinerates the medications or sends them back to manufacturers.

Another company, Clean Harbors, comes to PVH and MCR every week to pick up more-hazardous substances.

“Very little gets into the trash or down the drain,” said Rodney Good, director of pharmacy services at Medical Center of the Rockies.

When the state of Colorado inspected MCR a few years ago, Good said, it was only one of two hospitals in state with no deficiencies related to how it disposes of hazardous materials.

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