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A Legacy of Service

Adventures Had, Adventures to Come

Article by Amy Kappler Bradley

Photography by Hope West, GJ Lifestyle Staff

Originally published in Grand Junction Lifestyle

After a career of over 30 years in the healthcare industry, Christy Whitney, CEO of Hope West, will be passing the torch. Christy’s impact on the community is one to be admired and the Grand Valley will benefit from her influence for many years to come due to her work with Hospice and local healthcare organizations. Christy carries an impressive resume beginning with her first CEO job in Washington D.C. at Capital Caring, through the substantial development of the hospice care system in the Grand Valley, all the while continuing to create art (even designing the current Hope West logo) and winning the Community Vision Award in 2015. The relationships she has built within the community hospitals and healthcare organizations have truly impacted the level of care provided, and certainly, the number of people receiving such care has grown. Before Christy arrived in the valley, only around 25 people had ever received hospice care in Grand Junction. With her journey to create what is now the current Hope West, that number has been exponentially multiplied.

               Before her arrival, Hilltop had hospice service from roughly 1978 – 1992 and Saint Mary’s Hospital offered hospice from the 1980’s – 1992. Both had decided they wanted to divest from that program due to cost and thought a spinoff to a community organization would be better. Once all parties were contacted, a board was formed of two people from each organization and a collaborative effort was underway to improve availability and service quality. Her goal was to not be in competition with any hospitals or healthcare organizations but rather to work with them and create a much-needed service. Through her established contacts with members of the healthcare community such as Karen Hildebrandt of Hilltop, she was able to bring together those four organizations already present in the valley and develop a clear mission statement to align their goals and make sure every voice was heard. Each was then asked to donate money toward a hospice center. Even with substantial donations from each, there still was not enough money for an office space. Christy then went to the VA where they were able to work out an agreement for an office space in exchange for Christy and her employees becoming VA volunteers. Thus the first office was established, then called Grand Valley Hospice. The name changed to Hope West in 2013 after a handful of name changes and the inclusion of palliative care. Over the years they eventually expanded to their current location which now includes The Artful Cup coffee shop house on 12th Street. Christy described the process of getting that space from Gene Taylor and the re-zoning of acreage to be commercial in order to have the space as it stands today. Though it was not a simple process, it was worth it to see the final result come together.

               When asked why Christy got into hospice care initially, she explained that watching her mother-in-law go through pancreatic cancer was the experience that steered her in that direction. She realized that there had to be a better way, knowing how bad it can be for people at the end. The personal investment and compassion is what made Christy so driven and successful over the years to ensure that she was providing the highest quality care possible. Personal investment is also what she explained she will miss most. When asked, she laughed as she explained (a bit humorously) that the people are what she will miss most because she works so much, if she didn’t work with her friends she wouldn’t have any! And while she will miss them, she did say she is equally looking forward to slowing down a bit and not having life be such a continual rush. Christy’s next chapter will include more of her other favorite things besides work such as gardening, art and reading.

However, as the go-getter she is and her involvement with public policy committees, she likely will still have a strong presence in the valley for as long as she resides here. When asked her favorite thing about Mesa County, Christy again refers to the people: a big enough town that there is always something going on and someone new to meet but small enough that you always run into people you know. Regarding knowing your neighbor, Christy’s replacement Cassie grew up just 20 minutes from Christy’s parents in Kentucky. She joked that people won’t even realize she is gone because they seem to have so much in common. Christy feels very confident in leaving Hope West in Cassie’s hands because of her years of experience and her fresh, positive attitude.

We wish Christy the best of luck with her next chapter. We thank her for all her years of incredible, altruistic service, and hope she enjoys many of the simpler pleasures life has to offer here in the valley and where ever her future adventures take her.

  • Christy Whitney