Isabelle Comina

Manager of Therapy Services and Intake

Isabelle loves working in the community where she lives. “You can’t go anywhere without somebody stopping you if you wear anything related to Mount Evans. They will say ‘this is what you did for me or this is what you did for my family’. It’s a small world and when this happens you realize how connected everybody is and that you can make such a huge change in somebody’s life and it could be somebody next door. It’s very fulfilling, very rewarding.”

Isabelle Comina, Manager of Therapy Services and Intake

Q: Why did you want to work at Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice?
A: I was told about Mount Evans by a friend of mine. I was opening a physical therapy clinic with him at the Rec Center, and I was looking for a part-time job with benefits. And he said there’s an agency, Mount Evans, and they might have some openings. So I applied for the job and went in for an interview, and one of the things that was really attractive for me with this job was to be able to work in the community where I lived. I had moved to Evergreen a year prior (I used to live in Morrison), and I thought that it would be nice to work in the same community I lived in. I also loved the mission of Mount Evans and the vibe of the agency, which was a very attractive point for me to come and work here. So I started working at Mount Evans 8 years ago as a field clinician physical therapist.

Q: You’re now the Manager of Therapy and Intake, what made you want to take that position?
Yes, my current role is managing the rehab team which includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-therapists as well as managing the intake team. Four years into working at Mount Evans a management position opened up, and I was at a point in my career where I was ready to pick one job or the other, and I was encouraged to interview for the manager position and I did and I ended up getting the position, and I have been in management since August of 2017. Initially when I took the job it was part-time in the field still and part-time management, so the balance of patient care mixed with the stability of being in the office that was very attractive. I still go out in the field as needed as a backup physical therapist when we get busy or when somebody needs coverage or when one of my clinicians takes vacation.

Going out into the field feeds my soul. The office is great and I love my clinicians, however, that connection with patients is why I became a physical therapist, and that is at my core.

Q: What do you find rewarding about your work?
A: The connection to the patients. And now as a manager, the connection to my clinicians and knowing that they’re really satisfied and happy with their job. One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is to be able to go out in the field with my clinicians and sit back and observe the amazing work and care that they do with the patients. Because I don’t do as much with the actual patient care, being able to sit back and observe what the clinicians do with their patients and knowing that I have such an excellent team of clinicians is absolutely very rewarding. That’s what feeds my soul as a manager knowing that the community is well taken care of because of the clinicians that we have.

Q: What does it mean to you to serve our mountain residents?
A: The community is awesome. When I interviewed as a physical therapist, I thought yeah it might be cool to work in the community that you live in without really putting much thought in to it. It was more like, I want to be part of the community. Once I started doing that the reward of working in the community became very clear. Going to the grocery store and being stopped wearing your Mount Evans logo. Going to Home Depot to get paint and having the gentleman behind the counter say ‘You guys are amazing! You guys took care of my mom and dad through hospice’ and asking if certain clinicians are still with us who are still with us is just so fulfilling. You can’t go anywhere without somebody stopping you if you wear anything related to Mount Evans. They will say ‘oh my god this is what you did for me’ or ‘this is what you did for my family’. Such a sense of fulfillment when you hear that from people around you or from neighbors. Some of my neighbors have been seen by some of my clinicians and they come and say ‘oh my god that was amazing’. I found out after the fact that I took care of my neighbor’s mother. I didn’t know it was her mother, until I went to see the patient and she was asking where I live, and I said where I live and she goes oh, ‘do you know so and so’ and I said ‘yeah they’re my neighbors’. It’s a small world and this is where you realize how connected everybody is and you can make such a huge change in somebody’s life and it could be somebody next door. It’s very fulfilling, very rewarding.

Q: Do you feel like you make a difference in the lives of patients?
A. Oh absolutely, without a doubt. It’s a combination of both physical and emotional – a piece of our job is educating and coaching our patients through whatever circumstances they’re going through right now and doing the physical work and training to get them back to either a prior functional level or to an activity that is a passion for them or just improving their life in general by getting them back out in the community to lead as normal a life as possible is very life changing for a lot of our patients. When we start with them they are homebound, and so that’s why we go in the home because they’re not able to get out in the community, and our goal is to get them as functional as possible and get them back in the community, of course depending on the circumstances. And if they are not able to get out into the community, the goal is to give them the tools to be as functional as possible in the home whether its additional help, whether it’s caregivers, whether its home modifications, or safety education. At the end of the day, from the time we start with the patient to the time we are done, the functional level and the changes are very significant. Even if it’s a chronic disease walking them through that path and helping them maximize the function that they might have as the disease progresses is also very rewarding. And teaching caregivers so that the patient can remain in their home and be cared for by family members and caregivers so that they can maximize their function as the progression moves forward.

Q: Describe a moment from your job that touched your heart?
A: There has been many, many, many. One of my very first patients at Mount Evans went from working on oil rigs and being super active to not being able to get up, and it happened overnight, so big, big life change for him and his wife. I remember walking in the house and he was unable to sit on the edge of the bed without assistance. I worked with him for months and months and months until he was able to transition to outpatient, and at the time I was working in outpatient, so I continued working with him and eventually he graduated from outpatient and is doing his own thing. But he’s now able to walk with walking sticks. The determination that this man has was so inspiring. I have rarely seen somebody with such ambition to go back to his prior functional level. With a disease that actually progresses and ends up with loss of function, he knows that he will probably never get there, but he has gone the other way and that is absolutely amazing, and the only thing I can attribute it to is his will. The willingness and the determination just never never never giving up. He is an example for all of us in terms of what we can do if we put our mind to it, and 8 years later I still receive texts from him. He has participated many, many times in our fundraisers. I do the MS walk with him every year. He’s just somebody that has touched my heart to a degree that is so inspiring. It’s an amazing story. This guy is absolutely amazing.

And there’s many, many other stories like that but there’s a couple that really just grab you. I have a couple other people that I’m still in touch with and they keep me updated on their progress because they’ve had such a profound impact in my life in terms of that connection. It’s amazing, that’s the most beautiful piece. That’s the part that is just so rewarding when you take care of patients. And the beauty of one of the things about working here every single one of my employees or clinicians work here because they love what they do and they are willing to go above and beyond to make sure that the patients are taken care of. And that’s another part that’s very rewarding as a manager because that’s something that I would do. I would go above and beyond for anybody based on what they need, and I know that every single one of my clinicians would do that and that is I can go to bed at night at peace knowing that everybody is very well taken care of.

Q: Not all health care organizations are equal, what do you think makes Mount Evans special?
A: The people. The people that work here, everybody as an individual brings something special to the agency and that’s what makes the agency what it is. That personal touch with a common mission makes Mount Evans truly a big, happy family. Because people are here because they want to be here. And they’re here because they truly believe in the mission and the support with each other is amazing and that’s what makes Mount Evans very different to work for, everybody matters whether you are in billing, whether you are in intake, whether you are a clinician. It’s the work of everybody combined that makes Mount Evans what it is and people that are here are here because they truly love what Mount Evans does.

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