Gail Aaronson began working at Poudre Valley Hospital in 1972 and has seen plenty of changes in her 44 years with the organization. Originally hired as a registered nurse, she eventually worked her way to head nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) before moving into her current role as a Nurse Navigator. As the foundation celebrates our 40th anniversary this year we sat down with Gail to look back and learn more about her current role. Gail remembers the early days of the PVH and MCR Foundation (founded in 1976 as the Poudre Valley Hospital Foundation). She recalls the foundation providing support for scholarships and nurse education – both of which still happen today!

1. What does a Nurse Navigator do? Cardiac Nurse Navigators are responsible for meeting with patients who are suffering from heart failure. They provide resources for the potentially long battle with heart disease.

2. What does the typical day look like for a Nurse Navigator?  Booking appointments, providing resources, and face-to-face patient interactions are all part of a day’s work. Normally Nurse Navigators follow up with their patients every 24 to 48 hours.

3. What is the most difficult part of your position? Motivating individuals to take care of themselves once they leave the walls of the hospital. For example, taking their medication on time, eating healthy, and exercising.

4. It sounds like building relationships with your patients is key for a Nurse Navigator, what is the most challenging part of that aspect of your role? Building rapport with the patients can be difficult because of the environment they find themselves in. Sometimes, communicating with patients once they leave the walls of the hospital can be quite the challenge to overcome.

5. How does your position benefit the patients of UCHealth? The Nurse Navigator position provides patients with resources that are very valuable. Patients with a nurse navigator normally rate their care very highly because of the intense personal relationship they develop with their selected navigator.

6. What does philanthropy mean to you? Giving back to the people around you and building a healthy community based on a good ethical code. Philanthropy addresses the root cause of the problem.

7. What kind of impact does UCHealth have on the community of Fort Collins and how has it changed over the years? UCHealth has developed a great reputation in the state of Colorado. The Poudre Valley Health System has been in northern Colorado for many years and is an organization recognized by nearly everyone.


Gail at work in the Poudre Valley Hospital ICU in the 1970s.