Substance Abuse - Mental Health - Nursing at APN Lodge: Q&A

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Nursing at APN Lodge: Q&A with Sunny Carrington-Hahn

Sunny Carrington-Hahn in the Director of Quality, Risk, & Compliance at All Points North Lodge. She is currently filling in as a nurse at the bedside and also overseeing the process of obtaining Joint Commission accreditation. Sunny focuses on examining and monitoring the quality and compliance of processes and procedures. She also examines the overall risk for clients and staff. Despite her very full plate, Sunny sat down to answer a few of your most frequently asked questions. Check out her answers below or play the video above.

What is Sunny’s background?

Sunny has been a nurse for just over ten years. When her son was in utero, the doctors discovered a UPJ obstruction that signaled a kidney problem. When he was four months old, the doctors performed a pyeloplasty on his left kidney. As she began to “play nurse” by taking care of him at home, Sunny was incredibly impressed with the care his nurses offered him in the PICU.

Sunny began to think, “You know, I could do this.” She felt a call to nursing. Her original degree was in biology, and she had already taken quite a bit of the nursing prerequisite coursework. She loves to take care of people and just felt a pull into nursing.

How do you participate in the integrative care at APN Lodge?

At APN Lodge, we look at the entire person. Sunny explains that the team looks at their mental health and any addiction or substance abuse issues that they may have. But instead of just stopping there, All Points North Lodge looks at the entire client – including their medical health and wellness. Sometimes clients come to the Lodge and haven’t seen a doctor in a few years. So there are a lot of physiological aspects to their care with medication, disease states, and comorbidities that could contribute to or play a part in their mental health and substance abuse. At All Points North Lodge, we take a holistic approach to client care.

What should clients expect when they arrive at APN Lodge?

New clients should expect the intake process to take about an hour. During the coronavirus pandemic, clients then go into quarantine for seven days or until they get a negative COVID-19 test result. We try to test all new clients for COVID-19 as soon as possible. So if the test comes back negative before the seven-day quarantine is up, the clients can head out of quarantine into the rest of the Lodge and client population. While clients are in quarantine, the team keeps an eye out for any symptoms of coronavirus. They may also be detoxing during quarantine, so the medical staff oversees that as well.

What should clients expect during detox?

The goal is to make the process of detoxing from the substance as comfortable as possible while being completely safe. A detox may be from alcohol, narcotics, benzodiazepine, etc. Sunny’s team works to make sure that any signs or symptoms while detoxing are as minimal as possible. There is nearly always going to be a little bit of discomfort, but the goal is to keep it as comfortable as possible. The team wants to get clients through detox safely, into their therapy sessions, and then onto the recovery period.

What is social detox?

ASAM criteria determine the definition of social detox. It’s a step below medical monitoring detox, which would require IV medication and continuous monitoring. In social detox at the Lodge, Sunny’s team follows medical and vital signs as often as possible. Clients may receive PO tapers (not IV) while the nursing team observes for any signs or symptoms that require medication adjustments.

How do you work with clients after detox?

Once clients get out of detox, they’ll be attending therapy sessions and mixing with the general population. Clients typically stay a minimum of one month. If anything comes up medically during that time, APN Lodge partners with Vail Health and Colorado Mountain Medical. If clients show symptoms of something neurological, the APN team takes them to a partner for imaging. Again, it’s that whole patient approach at APN Lodge.

Some clients haven’t seen a doctor in a few years, so our nursing and medical teams work to take care of that. At our altitude, we often see clients with hypertension. We can put them on antihypertensives. If there are any signs of a thyroid issue, we can get that tested. Even if it’s something orthopedic that has just been bothering them for a while, the multidisciplinary team tries to connect the dots. The Lodge offers a very fluid continuum of care.

Sometimes clients are struggling with something that has ailed them for years, and they just haven’t managed it appropriately with a provider at home. Mental health issues and addiction can certainly complicate those things. We want to get to the bottom of what’s ailing them – outside of addiction and mental health too.

The All Points North Lodge team is looking at the whole body, so we’ll do everything we can. Even if a client needs surgery, the staff can accommodate that surgery. For that, we work with our partners at Vail Health’s Steadman Clinic and Vail Summit Orthopaedics. A client can have outpatient surgery, and we’re happy to help the client through recovery.

What community partners does the nursing team work with?

APN Lodge works with CMM, Steadman Clinic, and Vail Health. We also work with Howard Head, which is a part of Vail Health. Some of the nursing and medical providers also work partly at Vail Health and CMM. As we partner with them, they see what’s going on in the community and come to APN Lodge to follow client care.

What is the nursing philosophy?

When the nursing team gets new clients under their care, the goal is to wean clients off any extraneous medications they come in with. That could be supplements, vitamins, bodybuilding shakes, etc. The nursing team and broader multidisciplinary team takes a comprehensive look at the client. Sunny says the goal is to minimize and be a little bit more simplistic. Sometimes, of course, the client may need to add in a new medication or supplement to help manage a condition. But the goal is to be very strategic in helping each client be healthy with a minimal amount of medications and supplements.

Of course, the goal is also to grow and maintain a great relationship with all clients. Sunny and the other nurses want clients to come and see them anytime something comes up during their stay at the Lodge. Sunny says the nursing team tries to be a little hands-off once a client is out of the high-observation wing. But the team also works to foster a relationship where the client knows they can come to us with anything. Sunny believes it’s really beneficial for clients to know in their back of their minds that there is a strong nursing team that is always there to take care of them.


For more resources, check out our Speaker Series or give us a call for a free consultation. Stay tuned for more videos in this series.

Anna Mason

Anna Mason

Director of Marketing

Anna is a champion of stories and people person who works as the Director of Marketing for All Points North. Anna's heart beats for the "aha moments" of mental health, and she considers it an honor to create content that fosters these moments for people everywhere.