By Sid Goldwell
Centura Health at Home rolled out a new fleet of vehicles for 65 of its full-time employees this April.
Erin Denholm, CEO of Centura Health at Home, is crediting the new fleet with boosting employee morale, reducing staff turnover and maintaining a continuity of high-quality care for patients.
The health care provider which has four offices in Denver, Pueblo, Durango and Colorado Springs, received the vehicles, all brand new 4-by-4 Jeep Libertys, through a capital lease with Enterprise, Denholm said. The cost of the new fleet is at $1 million, she added, and the lease is for two years. She said working with Enterprise has been "a remarkable experience."
Centura Health at Home is a subsidiary of Centura Health, Colorado’s largest health care system and one of the state’s largest private employers. The faith-based organization is dedication to serving the sick, injured and senior citizen populations. Caring for individuals in their own homes, Centura Health at Home nurses, physical therapists, delivery drivers and other associates give clients high-quality personalized care. Services provided include home care, hospice comfort care, infusion therapy, oxygen and home medical equipment.
She says the new fleet is worth it, both for staff and patients.
"Gas prices were spiraling out of control," Denholm said of the decision to purchase the jeeps, "and the IRS does not allow reimbursement that matched up to the cost of living for the needs of our staff. We were concerned."
The snowstorms in December and January which paralyzed the Denver Metro area were further justification for Centura to get employer-issued vehicles, as staff were homebound and could not get to patients.
"Eighty percent of our staff was without 4-wheel drive," Denholm said. "During those storms, those employees who had four wheel drive were delivering staff to the homes of patients."
The new fleet is critical to the mission of Centura, which sees 20,000 patients a year statewide for home health care. Sixty-five eligible full-time staff, which include hospice employees, clinically trained nurses, chaplains, speech therapists and social workers, are allowed one vehicle with a gas card. The new fleet was distributed as follows: 22 in Denver, 18 in Colorado Springs, 15 in Pueblo and four in Durango.
"It's safer for staff and ensures the staff sees the patients," she said. "We're used to living in a mild climate but the snowstorms showed us how patients who are sick or actively dying need RNs there. If you had knee surgery, you need someone to manipulate it or the joint will freeze up. It's nonnegotiable."
Denholm said gas prices have gone up 50 cents since the new fleet was unveiled, but the vehicles have reduced the impact on the staffers' cost of living. She said staff members "feel like VIPs on the road" and have been given thumbs up signs from other drivers when they see the Centura Jeeps passing by.
"We have a happy staff," she said. "When employees feel good about who they work for, they give a higer level of care and this certainly enhances it."