STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO-February 7, 2019- Longtime local Jan Fritz has been named the 2019 Hazie Werner Award recipient. Nominations for Fritz highlighted her commitment to caring for community members diagnosed with cancer and her integral roles in launching a hospice program through Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, establishing the hospital’s chemotherapy center and the creation of the Jan Bishop Cancer Center opened in 2017.

Numerous people noted, Jan takes care to the next level by being available at all times of the day and night to provide advice and answer questions. “Her medical knowledge is a gift to this community,” said friend, colleague and nominator, Jane Howell. “I know from personal experience that Jan’s phone rings 24/7 and she makes herself available to answer questions, offer medical advice, reach a physician, and reassure us when we or those we love are in pain, or afraid, or at the end of their lives.”

Fritz has lived in Steamboat for more than 30 years, moving to the valley in early 1986 after visiting her husband’s aunt and uncle during the 70s and 80s. Prior to arriving in Steamboat, Fritz taught community health, psychiatric and emergency room nursing and worked on her local Hospice board while finishing her master’s degree in nursing. Her last job before leaving Indiana was in gastroenterology, where she built the foundation for her dedication to cancer treatment. Upon arriving in Steamboat, Fritz worked on in-home visits with cancer patients through the VNA, as well as working at the hospital a few nights a week covering a variety of medical needs.

Upon realizing Steamboat cancer patients had to travel to Denver for care and therapy, Fritz began promoting ideas for Routt Memorial Hospital to provide some level of care in Steamboat. In the early 1990s Fritz was able to help establish new therapies, advances in cancer care and bring cancer support devices to the area. She administered chemotherapy at Routt Memorial and tended patients at their homes. Thanks to Fritz’s efforts, oncologists began visiting Steamboat monthly to care for cancer patients. By 1995, a collaboration with Routt Memorial administration, pharmacy and physicians, Rocky Mountain Cancer Center and surgeons resulted in a whole cancer program in the Yampa Valley. At the same time, Fritz played an integral role in bringing a Hospice program to Steamboat in 1993. The hospice program meant patients with a terminal diagnosis of 6-months or less could stay in Steamboat with care available for the patient and their families.

In 2008, Fritz became the full time Director of Cancer Services, as Yampa Valley Medical Center began to plan for the future of its cancer program. In 2017, the Jan Bishop Cancer Center opened offering an 8,000 square foot space dedicated to cancer treatment with an oncology clinic, private and semi-private rooms and conveniences for chemotherapy and infusion patients. Focusing not only on the patients, but on their families as well, the UCHealth Jan Bishop Cancer Center also provides social work, nutrition and complimentary programs and is now a part of the UCHealth oncology service line for continued excellence in cancer care.

Fritz’s commitment to the Steamboat community spans decades with her involvement in UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center Ethics Committee, past president and member of Ski Town USA Morning Rotary Club, Treasurer for the Bust of Steamboat (now the Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness project), Director of Northwest Colorado Aid & Support, and a proud Steamboat Booster Club supporter. Fritz spends her free time participating in the music program at St. Paul Episcopal and Concordia Lutheran churches, creating fabric designs and traveling to see family on the west coast.

Fritz is the 2011 recipient of the Doc Willett Health Care Heritage Award for healthcare community advocate, and the 1996 recipient of the Colorado Florence Nightingale Award from the University of Colorado School of Nursing, in honor of starting the hospice and cancer program in Steamboat Springs.

“I had the opportunity to meet Hazie in her home and have admired her grace, her humility, her sense of community and having the common sense to get things done for the good of the people with whom she lived,” said Fritz. “The heart of the community is its people. There is always a way to make life better, but it takes the determination of the people to create a future to be proud of. Hazie made Steamboat better in big ways and small ways, but her heart always led the way. I am honored to be among the Hazie Werner award winners.”

Each year, Steamboat Ski Resort honors a local female community member who represents Hazie Werner’s legacy through volunteer work, community commitment and support of local organizations. Hazie was known in the Yampa Valley for her inspirational dedication, gracious and caring philosophy of giving, and tireless commitment to making Steamboat the unique, supportive town it is today.

Fritz joins 30 other recipients who have received the Hazie Werner Award since its inception in 1989. Previous recipients include: Skeeter Werner Walker, Katy Rodolph Wyatt, Eleanor Bliss, Carol Baily, Lucile Bogue, Criss Fetcher, Dorothy Wither (posthumously), Sureva Towler, Rita Valentine (posthumously), Geneva Taylor, Carol Schaffer, Gloria Gossard, Jayne Hill, Elaine Gay, Millie Beall, Arianthe Stettner, Wanda Redmond, Margi Briggs-Casson, Margaret ”Poogie” Dawes (posthumously), Nancy Stahoviak, Carol Booth Fox, Diane Moore, Susan E. Birch, Christine Painter, Marsha Daughenbaugh, Sarah Floyd, Nancy Kramer, Deb Werner, Jane Howell and Betse Grassby.

In addition to the Hazie Werner Award, Steamboat Ski Resort will present the Snowball Community Grant to Partners in Routt County and UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation in the amount of $10,000 to each organization.  UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation will distribute the funds in Fritz’s name to the UCHealth Jan Bishop Cancer Center.

A reception to honor Fritz and the Snowball Grant recipients will be held 5:30 to 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at Haymaker Clubhouse, the public is invited to join.
For interviews with Fritz, please contact Lindsey Reznicek, communications specialist for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.