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Thought Leaders: A Tale Of Two Companies

Many hospice patients can be successfully cared for wherever they live in the community, supported by compassionate, expert hospice team members who provide caregiving training to their loved ones. There are times, however, when a hospice patient’s symptoms (e.g., pain, nausea, agitation) escalate to a point that they cannot be kept comfortable at home and require a brief inpatient stay. This acute level of hospice care is called General Inpatient (GIP), and is typically provided in a dedicated hospice inpatient unit, a hospital, or a skilled nursing facility. There patients in need of GIP care receive 24/7 medical and nursing intervention, symptoms are closely monitored, and medications can be titrated as quickly and frequently as needed to achieve comfort.

For over 20 years, Pathways leased six beds on the 3rd floor of McKee Medical Center in Loveland, a space that came to be known as the Pathways Hospice Care Center (PHCC). Pathways will be forever grateful for our friends at McKee for this storied partnership. Literally thousands of patients and families received expert care and support at PHCC over the past two decades, and for the past couple of years those six beds have been the only dedicated inpatient hospice beds in northern Colorado – and are not sufficient to meet the great and growing demand. There were many days when all six beds were full, and acutely symptomatic, terminally ill patients in hospitals were queued up waiting to get in. The words “hospice” and “waitlist” should never be in the same sentence, which is why Pathways is building a 12-bed freestanding inpatient care center on our Fort Collins campus that will open in early summer 2022.

The latest PHCC lease term expired on December 31, 2021. Our plan was to obtain one final lease extension to bridge the gap until our new care center opened in June or early July of 2022. Banner Health declined our request to renew the lease, so Pathways reached out to Columbine Health Systems to inquire about options for an interim home for PHCC. Columbine, a strong partner of Pathways for many years, immediately rowed in to help, recognizing that it was vitally important that northern Colorado communities have seamless access to these dedicated inpatient hospice beds.

Effective December 28, the new interim home for PHCC is Columbine’s Lemay Avenue Health & Rehab Facility in Fort Collins. Pathways is able to provide the same scope of services and acute level of care at Lemay as we did at McKee, and our dedicated PHCC team members now report to work at the new Lemay location and provide care 24/7 care to these patients. PHCC will continue to operate at Lemay for the next six months or so until Pathways’ new freestanding care center opens.

This is a shining example of two prominent local healthcare organizations partnering to ensure their community has uninterrupted access to a unique and critically needed type of care. What a wonderful way to end another strange and challenging year!


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