Healthy Tahoe: Home health and hospice in the mountains |

Healthy Tahoe: Home health and hospice in the mountains

Lauren Zeffaro, FNP
Home health and hospice personnel have trudged through waist-deep snow, high snow berms, unshoveled driveways, whiteout conditions, rain, sleet, and every mixture of road and traffic conditions to reach patients. 
Provided/Barton Health

Home health and hospice are challenging areas of health care even in perfect conditions. In Tahoe, added impacts of winter weather, tourism travel, and mountain passes can lead to the perfect storm. Yet, we are proud to navigate the challenges and provide medical care to our medically-vulnerable population. 

Home health provides skilled services from registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, aides, as well as social work to our community’s homebound population. Hospice provides end-of-life care to allow those with terminal diagnoses a dignified death at home with their symptoms well-managed by a diverse team of experienced staff. Additionally, the hospice team, in coordination with local congregations, offers spiritual and bereavement support before and after the patient passes away to families who continue to cope with the loss of their loved ones.

This winter’s storms led to challenges our team navigated with grace and diligence. We actively monitor weather and road conditions to ensure our teams can travel safely and provide the closely-monitored care our patients require. Our teams have trudged through waist-deep snow, incredibly high snow berms, unshoveled driveways, whiteout conditions, rain, sleet, and every mixture of road and traffic conditions to reach our patients. 

Barton Home Health & Hospice services a wide area, from Glenbrook to Markleeville, which requires a high level of coordination of schedules, patients’ needs, and communication to ensure we are most effective and our patients and staff are safe. 

Behind the scenes, our operational support team completes intake of new patients, answers phone calls, and triages patients to get them in touch with the clinicians who are out on the road. 

While the challenges can be overwhelming, our dedicated team are some of the most resourceful professionals in the business. We regularly coordinate with community partners including CalTrans, El Dorado County, Alpine County, Douglas County, the city of South Lake Tahoe, regional Law Enforcement and Fire agencies, and regional mortuaries — we are grateful for their continued support, assistance, and often creative solutions to reach those we jointly serve.

It is an honor and privilege to care for our medically-vulnerable and elderly populations and it is a bright spot for us to reach a patient or community member in need who has been isolated due to the weather and their health. In December 2022 alone, Barton’s Home Health & Hospice teams completed 508 home visits despite the overwhelmingly challenging conditions.

Lauren Zeffaro, FNP, is the Director of Barton Home Health & Hospice. Barton Home Health provides high-quality, cost-effective, compassionate care using the latest technology. Learn more at

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