Telluride Med Center: Honoring Sydney Melzer

Telluride Med Center: Honoring Sydney Melzer

Two things you should know about Sydney Melzer of the Telluride Medical Center team: She follows her passion. Her passion is helping people. 

Sydney Melzer is honored by the Telluride Med Center for her service.

In February, Sydney Melzer was chosen by managers at the Telluride Regional Medical Center to receive an Exceptional Care Award.

Melzer, grew up in the Telluride region and joined the medical center team in 2018 — her dream to care for people, however, began early in life.

“It’s been the deciding how best to help that has been the journey,” said Melzer.

As an undergrad at Santa Clara University Melzer studied psychology and business administration. Later she dove into emergency medicine and earned an EMT certification. Even when Melzer’s passion led her to Los Angeles to explore a modeling career, she maintained a volunteer position at Cedars-Sinai.

From 2011 through 2013 Melzer took her talents international, where, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, she worked in public health and education, speaking Arabic to help people any way she could.

Upon returning to Colorado, Melzer went back to school, this time to receive an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She soon began offering private health coaching and found great success applying her holistic world-view to individuals, an experience that continues to shape Melzer today.

“I come to this position with the approach of looking at challenges by first getting a feel for a person’s whole story,” said Melzer.

As a Care Manager at the Telluride Regional Medical Center, Melzer is able to do just that.

The Care Management program is multifaceted. A primary focus is following up with patients who have been to an emergency room or hospitalized. It’s possible Melzer makes more calls like this than any other individual in the state of Colorado. In 2019, she achieved a 100 percent follow-up rate with patients who had been hospitalized or had a visit to an emergency department. The calls to patients are made to make sure people understand discharge instructions and to help with any transitions of care. The calls come right when many people are most vulnerable. For some people it’s their first opportunity to tell the whole story about their ordeal or to ask questions about follow-up appointments.

“The best part of my day is surpassing people’s expectations with attention they’ve never received before and making sure they’re set up for recovery,” said Melzer.

Melzer, and her peer Ximena Rebolledo R.N., also support positive outcomes for patients by helping to create lifestyle goals and providing them with the resources to overcome barriers to change.

“With the pressures and pace of modern health care, doctors and nurses are limited in how much time they can spend in an exam room with a patient — we’re able to overcome that limitation by looping in Care Managers who have more time to spend with patients,” noted Melzer.

It’s attention like this that allows the Telluride Regional Medical Center to be recognized at the highest level by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a Patient-Centered Medical Home.

“Our focus is on coordinated and long-term and participative relationships. This is outright exceptional, especially in rural areas like ours,” said CEO Karen Winkelmann.

On one recent occasion Melzer recalled meeting with Carl, a patient (identified by a pseudonym) who had indicated a desire to lose weight. Carl had an app downloaded to his phone and anticipated he’d be discussing with Melzer the best ways to utilize it. Melzer, instead, asked Carl questions about his life to learn when he last felt healthy and happy. The conversation revealed deeper root causes to the weight gain that the patient wasn’t considering.

“When he left he was excited. He didn’t need his phone to make a change after all. He told me he had a lot of work to do, but for the first time he knew where to start.”

It’s this approach to wellness that most excites Melzer about where healthcare can go.

“Away from silos that don’t connect body and mind, and towards a whole-patient approach to well being.”

In addition to patient counseling, Melzer also manages the Med Center’s collaboration with Tri-County Health Network, a food prescription program aimed to put fresh fruits and vegetables onto more plates of those facing chronic disease or diminished access to nutritious food, and a diabetes program that ensures patients are receiving timely medical services, education, resources, and access to free services like retinopathy screenings.

Melzer completed her Diabetes Paraprofessional Level I Certification in November. In 2020 Melzer will expand her knowledge base of nutrition and cardiovascular health with a course offered by Andrew Weil’s Center for Integrative Medicine.

Each month the Telluride Regional Medical Center honors the efforts of someone from their team:

“We look at who is going above and beyond to make sure patients are getting the best possible care, and that starts for us with the first phone call and extends beyond the primary or emergency care visit,” said Winkelmann.

For Melzer the honor is the opportunity to make an impact.

“It’s incredible to give back to the community I grew up in — it means so much to offer comfort and access to transformative care to the people in this region,” concluded Melzer.

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