Six months ago, Dede Fluette was named the executive director of Rocky Mountain Care, an organization that provides charitable health care for low-income citizens. On Aug. 1, RMC launched DUO, a new volunteer-based program that will assist low-income seniors and people with disabilities with minor home repairs and maintenance. The organization is also hosting a noncompetitive 5K (Aug. 4, 9 a.m., Sugar House Park, 1500 E. 2100 South) with funds raised going to DUO and to a scholarship fund for those seeking educational opportunities in the medical field.
What is DUO?
We do minor but critical home repairs for low-income seniors and people with disabilities in Davis County. It can’t be anything that needs a contractor or anything like that. The whole purpose is to keep that vulnerable population in their homes. Think of an 85-year-old woman who lives alone getting up on a stepladder to change a light bulb. That can be really dangerous. If they’re vulnerable economically, having a leaky faucet can drain them on their water bill. And there are so many different disabilities … in the case of someone in a wheelchair, how are they going to change a light bulb? Often, you can’t see disabilities, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Maybe they don’t have the strength to do things like fixing a leaky faucet. We’ll also hook up their swamp coolers in the spring and do a big leaf-raking roundup in the fall. We’re wanting them to live independently as long as they can.
These seem like such small actions—can they really delay someone from having to go to a nursing home?
That’s what we’re trying to delay, especially for that socio-economic vulnerability. Nursing homes are expensive, and no one wants to go to one. So if we can do that little bit, that helps them stay at home. A lot of people say, “Don’t they have family members that can help them do that?” Not everyone does, and not every family member is always available to come do that.
Why did you decide to start DUO in Davis County?
Last fall, we sent surveys out to community partners, we went around to senior centers, had a community forum, trying to see where there was a gap in services. This service is offered in Salt Lake County and Weber County, but it’s never been offered in Davis. We’ve been out hitting the senior centers, getting the word out. We’ll send out a flier with Meals on Wheels in Davis County. We’ve been working really close with the Department of Aging. I don’t think getting clients is going to be hard. [The response from volunteers has been] kind of slow, but I think that will blossom once the program gets started. I ran a similar program in Weber County, and once people start doing it, they love doing it.
How did you get involved with Rocky Mountain Care?
I’ve done a million different things, and about 10 years ago, I started working nonprofit and kind of went, “Oh, that’s what I’m supposed to be when I grow up.” I started with a program that’s sort of like our DUO program, in Weber County, and I was amazed that someone paid me to do that, because it was such a wonderful thing. I left there and worked for a community-action agency for almost six years. I don’t know if I could go back to working anything besides nonprofit. I took about a year off and took an early retirement with my husband for a while, and thought I’d go back to work part time for the summer. I got on with Rocky right as their executive director was leaving, so I got to sort of take over.
Rocky Mountain Care has home-care and hospice services and nursing facilities. They started in 1999. They wanted to give back to the community, so they started the foundation, and in 2006, the foundation blossomed out into doing the things that we do now. On top of the DUO program, we do charitable health care. The people under the poverty guideline that are without essential health-care services, we can help pay for them to get care.