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Erie family creates nonprofit to help others find in-home nurses following personal struggle

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Posted at 9:43 PM, Oct 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-18 23:43:12-04

ERIE, Colo. — An Erie family has created a nonprofit to help others connect with in-home nurses following their own struggle to find care for their daughter.

Two years ago, the Knights struggled to find in-home nursing care after their 6-month-old daughter was born three months premature. Now, Olivia is 2-years-old and has made a drastic improvement. Her parents want to pay it forward to other families with similar struggles.

"Back in August, we got her [tracheostomy tube] out, and she continues to grow and get healthier and bigger,” said Olivia’s father, Gary Knight.

Olivia spent the first nine months of her life in the hospital. When she was finally discharged, she needed 24/7 supervision. She also needed oxygen support and a feeding tube.

Due to the level of care needed, Olivia's mother, Kathryn Knight, had to quit the job she loved.

"We went through a lot of the struggles with nursing and taking care of Olivia by ourselves. A lot of overnight shifts between Kathryn and I to take care of her,” said Gary.

During that time, the Knights struggled to find in-home care for Olivia due to a nursing shortage, so they reached out on social media for help. They eventually found an in-home nurse through the placement agency Aveanna Healthcare.

"We're at a point that attracting nurses is nearly impossible,” said Victoria Stewart, area vice president of operations for Aveanna Healthcare Colorado.

The COVID-19 pandemic exasperated the shortage.

"Whatever the level of need, we are still unable to get nurses into these homes, or get children out of the hospital,” said Stewart.

That's why the Knights created their nonprofit, Hello Nurze.

"We created what our pulmonologist has branded the eHarmony for nurses and families essentially,” said Gary.

The website allows families and nurses to create a profile and share what they're looking for.

"The families then end up going to third-party agencies, like Aveanna, to formalize that relationship,” said Kathryn. "We feel like it should be easier for families. And home health is not always the part of the health care industry that nurses consider.”

Aveanna said it's trying to change that through recruitment and support.

"We just try to personalize every experience to make sure we're giving the nurse what they need and get a patient some support,” said Stewart.

The Knights hope to wean Olivia off in-home nursing in a few months. After one more procedure, they hope she'll be able to start school later this month.

"I would love to see her go to college. I would love to see her have a fully normal life,” said Kathryn.

The Knights created a GoFundMe online fundraiser to raise money for their nonprofit. They are also selling t-shirts to generate funds.

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