Hospital ready to aid ailing infant
Valley View Hospital in Glenwood is more than willing to provide whatever care it can to Saige Blotske, a Carbondale baby suffering from a genetic disorder and facing the loss of home nursing care.
“We will be there to help out anyway we can, just like we’ve been there for Saige and her family in the past,” said VVH Administrator and CEO Gary Brewer, adding that Saige has been hospitalized at Valley View numerous times in her young life.
Unfortunately, the hospital is limited in what kind and type of help it can provide to the ailing baby. It does not have an intensive home nursing program nor is it accredited to provide hospitable space for “extended-care management of an acute illness,” such as Saige’s, said Brewer.
But if any emergency arose, “we would never turn her away, just like we never turn anyone away,” Brewer said.
Saige Blotske was born at Valley View 13 months ago with Apert syndrome, a life-threatening genetic disorder. The baby has survived a dozen different surgeries, including neurosurgeries, intestinal surgery, facial surgery and insertion of breathing and feeding tubes. She requires 24-hour-a-day care to cope with ongoing respiratory problems and the constant threat of infection.
Saige is currently at her Carbondale home where she is being treated by a team of nurses provided by Home Health Care of the Rockies. Saige’s mother, April, is staying at home to help care for Saige, and dad, Trevor, also takes time off from his job at KN Energy to help care for his child.
Recently, Home Health Care of the Rockies notified the family that it could no longer provide intensive, in-home nursing care for Saige after Christmas Day. Currently, nurses from the agency are with Saige 24 hours a day for three days a week, and 12 hours a day for four days a week.
Valley View Hospital does not provide the same level of “private-duty nursing” as Home Health Care of the Rockies, said Brewer, so it would not be able to take over the home-based nursing care now provided.
The Blotskes were informed, via a phone message, that Valley View Home Health, the hospital’s home health care program, would not be able to take over Saige’s case.
Brewer said Valley View Home Health is not staffed or equipped to provide extensive nursing care at home. Instead, it is a service that offers short visits from nurses or sometimes physical therapists to patients recently released from the hospital. Those visits generally entail making sure the patient is recovering on schedule, for instance, or is taking medication, Brewer said. The program is not staffed or designed to provide more than those types of short, fairly routine visits, he noted.
Trying to convey that information via a phone message was probably not the best way to communicate the limitations of the program to the family, said Brewer.
But the call was made because the hospital’s caseworkers were aware of the pending loss of nursing care through Home Health Care of the Rockies and wanted to inform the Blotskes of their options, Brewer said.
In fact, hospital caseworkers are continuing to work on her case. “There are a lot of people here, from the nurses and doctors who have treated her to caseworkers, who care very much about Saige,” he said.
Brewer said the Glenwood hospital is trying to find another in-home nursing option for Saige. The hospital has contacted home health agencies in Grand Junction and Mesa County, and even called Rep. Russell George of Rifle, to see if there are any state programs available for the Blotskes.
If the billing and other insurance problems associated with Saige’s current in-home nursing program are not solved, “we will help out, if we can,” said Brewer.
But, again, the hospital is limited in the type of care it can offer, and those limitations have nothing to do with money.
Brewer said the hospital has never had a problem getting insurance payments for its past care of Saige, and, as noted, would treat her regardless of the family’s insurance situation. “We’re a public hospital, we don’t turn people away,” said Brewer.
During previous stays, Valley View was able to admit Saige under terms of the family’s regular insurance and eventually as a Medicaid patient.
If an emergency arose, Saige would be admitted and treated immediately, Brewer said.
But the child cannot be admitted to the hospital for day-to-day care unless her doctor, Dr. Linda Schultz, and the hospital’s doctors could show that she meets Medicaid’s criteria for hospitalization.
“We’re licensed as an acute illness hospital, not a long-term, acute-care facility,” Brewer said.
That is partly why Saige is being treated at home, along with her parents’ desire to take an active role in her care and to provide a more comfortable and loving environment than a hospital.
“It’s kind of a Catch-22,” Brewer said, because Saige obviously needs extensive daily care, but it would be an uphill battle with Medicaid and insurance providers to give her that care in a local hospital.
“It’s just a horrible situation,” he said.
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