Colorado 2018 Community Health Champions and Advocates Honored

DENVER― Colorado Community Health Network announced its annual awards for Community Health Champions and Advocates, people who support the work of Colorado Community Health Centers (CHCs) and the people they serve, during its 2018 Policy and Issues Forum.

The awards given Feb. 7, 2018, are:

  • Media Community Health Champion Award: Samuel Bernal-Urbina, Entravision/La Tricolor Aspen

Below are details about the criteria for each award and the award winners.

Legislator Community Health Champion Award

CCHN’s Legislator Community Health Champion awards are given to legislators who have gone above and beyond to support legislation and positions that directly support Community Health Centers and increase access to primary health care for the underserved. This includes supporting CCHN-sponsored legislation and positions, extraordinary efforts such as stewarding legislation through committees and recruiting colleagues to support legislation, and strong, visible support of Community Health Centers.

The Honorable Tony Exum, Sr., State House District 17

In her presentation of the award, Pam McManus, CEO of Peak Vista Community Health Centers, said, “Rep. Exum believes every Coloradan should have access to high-quality and affordable health care and he has strongly supported Colorado’s health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado. He understands the importance and need of CHCs in underserved areas. Peak Vista serves over 9,465 patients in Representative Exum’s district, and through recognizing this fact – Rep. Exum has prioritized understanding the various and vital services that Peak Vista provides in the community.

“During a recent visit and tour of Peak Vista’s Academy Campus, Rep. Exum expressed his support and willingness to partner on issues of importance to Peak Vista and their patients, his constituents.

“Rep. Exum has voted favorably for CCHN and Peak Vista legislative priorities throughout his tenure in the state house. His ongoing support helps Peak Vista provide our communities with necessary programs, resources and services for the underserved.”

The Honorable Dominick Moreno, State Senate District 21

Simon Smith, CEO of Clinica Family Health, presented Senator Moreno with his award and explained, “Sen. Moreno is a passionate advocate for the underserved, and by extension demonstrates exceptional support for the social health care safety net systems so crucial to our communities. Born and raised in Adams County, he understands the concepts of social determinants of health, and his legislative priorities have reflected that.

“Dominick has sponsored legislation for behavioral health, oral health, Medicaid home health, and medical transportation; all priorities that reflect a strong, community-based understanding of how health care is delivered and the needs of the community. He has been a consistent supporter of Community Health Centers through support of our funding requests in Washington, and visits to local clinics in his district.

“Sen. Moreno asks penetrating questions and demonstrates a deep commitment to those in need across the communities he represents. He is a down-to-earth, approachable legislator. As an example, I was able to call him on his personal cell phone to assist in resolving a sustained neighborhood power outage that impacted one of our busiest clinics for three days. Dominick called me right back and personally assisted with contacting the appropriate people at the power company to lend weight and urgency to this resolution.

“He consistently visits and is attentive to CHC priorities, and is an extraordinary advocate and supporter of the health care safety net cause.”

Volunteer Clinician Community Health Champion Award

Each CHC relies on clinicians, especially those with specialties outside of primary health care, who live in the communities CHCs serve to volunteer their services and expertise to CHC patients. The Volunteer Clinician Award is given each year to a volunteer clinician who has been dedicated to serving the needs of those who would otherwise be medically underserved.  Recipients of this award:

  • Provide direct health care services at a Community Health Center;
  • Advocate on behalf of the medically underserved; and
  • Have provided volunteer services for a minimum of three years.

This year’s award winner, Dr. Richard W. Moothart, donates his time and expertise to patients at Peak Vista Community Health Centers.

Dr. Moothart graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine. After completing a fellowship in cardiology at the University of Colorado Medical Center, Dr. Moothart entered into private practice in Colorado Springs, taking time during his career to serve on numerous hospital committees as well as hospital medical staff leadership positions. He introduced the use of echocardiography, the intra-aortic balloon pump, and started the use of interventional coronary angioplasty at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs.

Pam McManus, CEO of Peak Vista CHCs, described Dr. Moothart’s contribution to Peak Vista:

“After his retirement from private practice, Dr. Moothart began volunteering at Peak Vista in August 2010. He typically sees our patients during three hour clinic sessions he holds on nearly a weekly basis at our volunteer health center. Since November of 2012, Dr. Moothart has seen 257 cardiology consults.

“Without question, Dr. Moothart has provided much needed patient access to cardiology consultative services for our Peak Vista patients for the past seven years. He truly epitomizes those ideals of selfless service that are an integral part of the Hippocratic Oath.”

On accepting the award, Dr. Moothart said, “These patients give me more than I give them.”

Media Community Health Champion Award

Information is essential to good health practices and the news media plays a critical role in informing the public about health care. Therefore, each year CCHN honors a newspaper, radio or TV station, or member of the media for high-profile coverage of issues facing the underserved, coverage of emerging issues in health care for the underserved, and for portraying the human faces of health care issues.

Samuel Bernal-Urbina, Entravision/La Tricolor Aspen, was honored for his commitment to ensuring the Spanish-speaking population on the Western Slope are informed about issues related to health care and immigration.

In describing Mr. Bernal-Urbina’s work, Ross Brooks, CEO of Mountain Family Health Centers and CCHN Board Chair, explained, “People are drawn to La Tricolor for the music or comedy, but soon find the station is a reliable source of information about issues important to them.

“La Tricolor has kept its listeners informed about their health care options, including Mountain Family Health Centers, where they establish a health care home where they can receive integrated primary medical, behavioral and dental health care, often with Spanish-speaking providers, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.

“This past November, La Tricolor sponsored a Latino Health Fair, which was attended by 100 percent more people than the previous year, which is a testament to their reach in the Latino Population. Called Vida en Salud Connectandote al Cuidado Mèdico (Life in Health, Connecting with Medical Care), this health fair offered the Latino Community education, blood testing and screenings, and the chance to meet and talk with Medical professionals.

“La Tricolor also provides valuable education for the community on immigration issues and concerns, seeking to quell fears and anxiety with accurate information and resources.

“Samuel has recently joined the Board of Directors for Mountain Family Health Centers, and I am thrilled as he so well knows the issues and concerns of our Latino patient population, and is such a wonderful advocate on their behalf.”

Mr. Bernal-Urbina was unable to attend and his coworker, Ms. Crystal P. Mariscal, accepted the award on his behalf. She said of Mr. Bernal-Urbina, “His family, my family and he are immigrants; we said that we are lucky to work for a company that offers private health insurance for their employees. But you know that is far from the case for most of the immigrant community, a community we admire and respect.

“That is why we love our job. We love to work hard for hard woking people. We love to make them smile. We love to tell them good news. Community Health Centers are good news for all of us.

“Four years ago, Entravision Communications thought it would be a good idea to have a Health Fair in the Roaring Fork Valley, with as many Spanish speakers as possible, in order to serve part of that community. We started looking for partners to do it and Mountain Family Health Centers were the first ones to raise their hand and say: yes, let’s do it! They have partnered with us since then, year after year, without hesitation.”

Community Health Advocate Award

Since 2008, CCHN staff has recognized an advocate of the year during CCHN’s Policy and Issues Forum.  This year CCHN honors Danyelle Carlson, executive assistant, contract administrator, and advocacy coordinator at Mountain Family Health Centers, with the Community Health Advocate Award.

Ms. Carlson has been with Mountain Family since 2014, and has taken on a variety of roles within Mountain Family, including that of advocacy coordinator. She has led many of Mountain Family’s advocacy accomplishments, including helping to set up and lead an advocacy task force, spearheading the National Association of Community Health Center (NACHC) and CCHN P&I scholarship programs for Mountain Family staff, and working towards Advocacy Center of Excellence (ACE) and Hispanic Advocacy Center of Excellence (HACE) recognition. Mountain Family was one of the first CHCs in the nation to achieve ACE status and the first to achieve both ACE and HACE status, thanks to Ms. Carlson’s leadership and commitment to operationalizing advocacy at Mountain Family.

She took on Mountain Family’s civic engagement work beginning in 2014, helping to bring voter registration opportunities to all Mountain Family sites and throughout the community. In 2016, Danyelle played a leading role in Mountain Family and CCHN’s efforts on the tobacco tax increase, ensuring that patients, staff and community-members knew about the ballot initiative and its importance to their CHC. In addition, when the first CHC funding cliff was going to occur in 2015, Danyelle lead a letter collection effort for Mountain Family, collecting hundreds of letters of support from patients, community members, partner organizations, and local businesses. She has continued this leadership throughout the past year with another federal funding cliff looming, ensuring patients, staff, and board members are aware of the risks and are poised and ready to take action.

Ms. Carlson has been a leading voice for the Manaus Valley Project community organizing in the Roaring Fork Valley, listening and speaking up on behalf of marginalized people. She has closely followed issues impacting immigrant families in the Mountain Family communities and has helped to bring trusted local legal advice to Mountain Family staff and families.

Here are just a few of the things Mountain Family colleagues have said about Ms. Carlson:

Annette Franta, CFO at Mountain Family, said: “Watching Danyelle take on the role of advocacy coordinator at MFHC has been inspiring. It’s almost as if she has found new meaning in her purpose to herself and her community. She is so passionate about everyone’s important voice. Danyelle often forces me to laugh when I am having a stressful day – she is great at reminding me not to take myself too seriously.”

Scott Owens, HR Director at Mountain Family, said: “Danyelle makes Mountain Family a better place to work. She challenges others and herself to be great no matter the obstacle.”

Gary Schalla, Development Director at Mountain Family, said: “What I love about Danyelle is her focused engagement in her advocacy work. It has really empowered her to a whole new level. She has become a true leader in the organization and the community. She is so deserving of this award.”

Ross Brooks CEO of Mountain Family, said: “Danyelle is humble. She rarely gets the credit for accomplishments she drives and compassion she delivers in the community.”

Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award

This award, first given five years ago, is named in honor of Jerry Brasher, former CEO of Salud Family Health Centers and one of CCHN’s founders. This award is given to a CHC executive who has been working at a CHC for 10 or more years, has maintained excellent relationships with his or her state and national legislators, and has done something extraordinary as it relates to CCHN’s priorities during their career.

The 2018 recipient is Stan Eilert, Chief Administrative Officer at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

Mr. Eilert joined the Coalition in 1996 after several years in leadership roles at the Mental Health Corporation of Denver, the Park East Mental Health Center, and the Weld Mental Health Center. He has been the Coalition’s representative on CCHN’s Board of Directors for many years. His job description includes fiscal management and oversight of accounting, human resources, facilities and security, information technology, and asset management programs.

In presenting the award, CCHN CEO and President Annette Kowal said, “All of these jobs serve his true purpose, which has been his commitment and steadfast advocacy on behalf of the Coalition’s patients – the homeless.  His daily work has been to ensure that the resources are in place to provide the Coalition’s full spectrum of services including integrated health care services, housing and a multitude of support services.

“Around the CCHN board table he often eloquently spoke to the unique needs of homeless clients and helped all CHCs consider how they could be better serving their clients and communities. Stan’s combined financial expertise and mission commitment has made him an expert, and important stakeholder in the state’s uninsured funding programs including the Colorado Indigent Care Program and Primary Care Fund.  During Stan’s years at the Coalition those two funding streams alone have provided millions of dollars to the Coalition, and supported health care provided to thousands. Stan has also been the advocacy voice pushing CCHN for years to get the state Medicaid agency (HCPF) to recognize a bigger, more comprehensive list of behavioral health providers. His dream list was recently approved by HCPF.  This policy change will allow the Coalition and CHCs across the state to increase access to behavioral health care in the primary care setting, and will have a lasting impact on CHCs’ integrated care model.

“In the federal policy realm, Stan was a persistent voice in the critical value of passing federal legislation that allowed CHC volunteer clinicians to receive medical malpractice protection through FTCA.  This was enacted in late 2016 and saves CHCs millions of dollars yearly that can now be invested in services, and is an important resource in CHCs recruitment and retention of volunteer clinicians.

“In Stan’s over 20 years of service to the Coalition he has undoubtedly been a key contributor to their mission of working collaboratively toward the prevention of homelessness and the creation of lasting solutions.”

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For contact information for the awardees or any of the quoted speakers, please contact Maureen Maxwell at (303) 861-5165, Ext. 259, cell (303)913-9078, or maureen@cchn.org.

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 to more than 740,000 of their community members – 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.