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Franciose: Time for a change

Sue Franciose
Zach Mahone |

EAGLE COUNTY — Sue Franciose thinks the county coroner’s office could do more than it does today. That’s why she’s running to unseat the 12-year incumbent.

Franciose, a Republican, is a long-time nurse and medical specialist. For 12 years, she was a cardiac profusionist, running the heart and lung machines that keep patients alive during open heart surgery. She’s also been a deputy coroner in Eagle County and has long experience in organ transplants and organ and tissue donation and procurement.

With that background, it’s no surprise that Franciose has made tissue donation a major part of her campaign platform. Tissue donation is different than organ donation. A patient donates organs while still in the hospital — machines keep them alive during those procedures. Tissue donations can be made by people who have already passed on.

Franciose said donations from one person can be used to help between 50 and 75 other patients. That’s why it’s worth pursuing a more aggressive tissue-donation program.

“A family knowing the death of a loved one made a difference in the lives of so many other people can be a comfort.”
Sue Franciose

Franciose has claimed that the Colorado Donor Alliance doesn’t have any records of being contacted by the coroner’s office here. A recorded phone call with the head of the Donor Alliance seems to confirm that assertion.

Franciose acknowledged that getting tissue donations from people who die outside the confines of a hospital can be difficult.

“It’s more effort — but it can be done,” she said.

Those efforts are complicated by a 24-hour clock for donation that starts ticking the moment someone dies. In the field, it’s often difficult to determine the time of death. That ticking clock is an absolute deadline.

“But many times you do know (the time of death),” Franciose said. “A family knowing the death of a loved one made a difference in the lives of so many other people can be a comfort.”

Franciose has other ideas for the coroner’s office. She’d like to produce a pamphlet for survivors, so those people can have easy access to answers about what comes next and who to call with specific questions. She’d like to help those working to reduce teen and adult suicide, and wants to help efforts to keep teens safe behind the wheel. Franciose also wants to ensure that deputy coroners receive the continuing education they need and would like to have meetings twice a year with the emergency services agencies in the county.

She recalled that when working as a profusionist, the cardiac care teams met monthly, bringing together different specialists who often didn’t confer, but treated the same patients.

“We met with everybody to review cases so we’d all know what we were working on,” she said. Meeting with emergency services twice a year would give everyone a chance to talk about recent cases, and how those cases might have been handled more effectively, she said.

Since arriving in the valley full-time in 2000, Franciose has worked for Vail Resorts in guest services and become involved in numerous community projects. She serves on the board of the Shaw Regional Cancer Center, and was involved in the project that built Jack’s Place, a residential facility near the cancer center. That facility is a place for patients to either rest between treatments or stay overnight if they come from outside the county.

“I don’t jump into anything unless I know I can make a difference,” Franciose said. “When I see a need, I go big. That’s what the cancer center is to me.”

Franciose said she’s equally excited about asking voters for the county coroner’s job.

“That’s why we have elections,” she said. Citing her own experience and ideas, she said, “I think we can do better.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.


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