For Immediate Release
November 17, 2015
Denver, Colo. — Polly Anderson, Chief Operating Officer for Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN), today received the prestigious Henry Fiumelli Patient Advocate Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). Ms. Anderson received the award at a NACHC meeting of leaders of the state and regional primary care associations (state and regional associations of Community Health Centers) in Delray, Fla.
The award was established in 2008 in recognition of Henry Fiumelli’s immeasurable contributions to the Community Health Center movement as executive director of the Pennsylvania Forum for Primary Health Care. The award is presented to an outstanding staff member of a NACHC-chartered state or regional primary care association who exemplifies passion and commitment to improving the care and quality of life for health center patients. Through his/her efforts in the primary care association arena, this individual has been able to improve access to quality primary care for vulnerable people or populations in their respective states. The decision is made based on the nominee’s years of service, developing responsibilities, and specific contributions to the community health center community.
As CCHN’s chief operating officer, Ms. Anderson is responsible for overseeing all administrative and operational programs, assisting with the fiscal management, and working with the CEO on strategic partnerships and planning. She has been a vital part of the CCHN family since 2004, when she joined the team as the project director for the Covering Kids and Families project. Since then, she has served as policy director and chief policy officer, assuming her current role in 2014. Ms. Anderson’s passion for ensuring access to health care for all individuals spans almost two decades and includes working for substance abuse treatment and public health organizations. Highlights of her work include:
Ms. Anderson was a leader in the development and implementation of the Colorado Primary Care Fund (PCF), which has used tobacco tax revenue to provide more than $100 million in funding to Colorado CHCs and has helped an estimated 80,000 Coloradans get access to health care.
She played a vital role in ensuring that the health care dollars allocated as a result of Referendum C, passed in 2005, were dedicated to expanding eligibility in Colorado’s Indigent Care Program from 200 to 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Ref. C funding to Colorado CHCs resulted in a 22 percent increase in the number of patient visits they provided through the state’s indigent care program, totaling nearly 300,000 annually.
In 2006, Colorado’s General Assembly passed S.B. 208, legislation creating a blue ribbon commission to develop a state plan for health care reform. Ms. Anderson led CCHN’s development of a proposal for the commission’s consideration, and worked to assure CHC participation in workgroups and testimony. These efforts resulted in the development of CCHN’s Access for All Colorado (AAC) plan to provide a health care home for more than one million low-income, underserved Coloradans. Ms. Anderson has been a staunch champion for the strategic implementation of the AAC, working with the CHCs to use the opportunities created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to put in place many elements of the AAC sooner than originally planned.
Ms. Anderson leads CCHN’s mental health integration efforts with community mental health providers. Because of these efforts, CHCs have enhanced relationships with their local Mental Health Centers, and ideas for further integration are continually examined. She has been a participant in the state’s development of the State Innovation Model (SIM) initiative that has the goal of improving the health of Coloradans by providing access to integrated primary care and behavioral health services in coordinated community systems, with value-based payment structures, for 80 percent of the state’s residents by 2019.
Ms. Anderson has been CCHN’s lead public spokesperson on the importance of the ACA on Colorado CHCs and their patients, speaking about the high-quality, affordable, comprehensive primary care provided by CHCs.
Lorez Meinhold, former Deputy Policy Director for Governor Hickenlooper’s Office of Policy and Research described Ms. Anderson as “. . . having a gift for balancing her deep knowledge of policy with incredible approachability. This gift has allowed Polly to build strong relationships with key state policy makers. Polly has educated and enhanced these policy makers’ understanding of the important role that Health Centers play in ensuring patient access to quality health care.”
Core to CCHN’s mission is the cultivation, maintenance, and growth of partnerships. Ms. Anderson has been instrumental in building and maintaining strong relationships with state and national partners that support both CCHN’s and CHCs’ work. These relationships are key to why local foundations have invested more than $83 million in Colorado CHCs and CCHN over the past five years. Kelly Dunkin, former Vice President of Philanthropy at the Colorado Health Foundation said of Ms. Anderson, “Because of her passion and persuasiveness about issues facing Colorado’s Health Centers, she has helped the Foundation create several funding initiatives that provide capital and operating support to Health Centers, and leverage potential federal funding.”
Ms. Anderson has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to improving the quality of care and life for CHC patients. According to Ross Brooks, CEO of Mountain Family Health Centers, “Much of what’s been good for Colorado Health Centers over the past decade traces its roots to Polly’s brain, innovations, and ability to make the future happen. Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans have better lives and access to high-quality care because of Polly’s leadership and vision.”
CCHN is proud to be the home of two Henry Fiumelli Patient Advocate Award honorees. Jessica Sanchez, CCHN’s chief quality and development officer, received the award in 2009. Ms. Sanchez is responsible for working with Colorado CHCs to improve access to high quality clinical care for underserved Coloradans and to oversee the operational systems for CCHN. She is the staff lead for the Colorado Clinicians Advisory Network, and is a family nurse practitioner. Ms. Sanchez has helped sustain and spread various state initiatives related to asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, prevention, office redesign, patient safety, and immunizations. She led CCHN’s Safety Net Medical Home Initiative, a collaborative project with the Commonwealth Fund and the Colorado Health Foundation, to transform Colorado CHCs into patient-centered medical homes. She was involved in managing and coordinating activities that supported CHCs in Colorado with their participation in the National Health Disparity Collaborative Initiative. Her patient-centeredness and strong sense of equity and justice inspires CCHN and CHC staff.
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The Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN) is the unified voice for Colorado’s 20 Community Health Centers (CHCs) and their patients. CHCs provide a health care home for more than 650,000 of their community members – more than one in eight people in Colorado – from 61 of the state’s 64 counties. Without CHCs, hundreds of thousands of Colorado’s low-income families and individuals would have no regular source of health care. CCHN’s mission is to increase access to high quality health care for people in need in Colorado. For more information about CCHN, please visit www.cchn.org.