Colorado Community Health Champions and Advocate Leaders Celebrated

February 19, 2015


Maureen Maxwell, CCHN
(303) 867-9530
(303) 913-9078 (mobile)

Colorado Community Health Champions and
Advocate Leaders Celebrated

DENVER – Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN) presented the annual Community Health Champion awards Feb. 18, 2015, honoring two state legislators, a physician who has volunteered for years at a Community Health Center (CHC), and a radio reporter. In addition, CCHN honored two advocates for their efforts to support the Community Health Center movement and encourage others to help. Representatives of Colorado’s CHCs are gathered at the state capitol this week to visit their state legislators during CCHN’s annual Policy and Issues Forum (P&I).

CCHN awarded the following:
• Colorado State Senator Pat Steadman, Senate District 31: Legislator Community Health Champion
• Former Colorado State Senator Gail Schwartz: Legislator Community Health Champion
• Dr. Randall Maharry, Salud Family Health Centers: Volunteer Clinician Community Health Champion Award
• Marci Krivonen, Aspen Public Radio: Media Community Health Champion Award
• Colleen Laeger, Board Chair, Salud Family Health Centers: Community Health Advocate Award
• Dave Myers, President and CEO, Metro Community Provider Network: Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award

Legislator Community Health Champion Awards
These awards are given to legislators who have gone above and beyond to support legislation and positions that directly support CHCs 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 CHCs. Sens. Steadman and Schwartz exemplify these criteria.

Sen. Steadman has served in the Colorado State Senate since 2009, and throughout his time in the state legislature, has been a champion of issues important to Community Health Centers.

As a member of the Joint Budget Committee, Sen. Steadman played the pivotal role in restoring Colorado CHCs’ Alternative Payment Method Medicaid reimbursement rate through making a motion to include funding for this restoration in the 2014 Long Bill for the Fiscal Year 2014-15 state budget. His work to ensure this reimbursement was included in the Long Bill has resulted in approximately seven million dollars of additional funding annually for services for Medicaid patients at CHCs.

Over the past five years, Sen. Steadman has also supported several other bills and budget items important to CHCs, including ensuring funding for the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, securing additional funds for substance abuse treatment, the transfer of the Early Detection and Treatment program to the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, and several others.

For his work in protecting funding for CHCs through his role on the Joint Budget Committee, as well as his commitment to other issues important to CHCs and their communities, CCHN honors Sen. Steadman with CCHN’s 2015 Community Health Champion Legislator Award.

Sen. Gail Schwartz also was selected for CCHN’s 2015 Community Health Champion Legislator Award. She was elected to the Senate in 2006, serving for two terms. Senate District 5 includes seven counties in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains: Chaffee, Delta, Eagle, Gunnison, Hinson, Lake, and Pitkin. During her time in the legislature, Senator Schwartz served on several committees, including the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Energy Committee, the Senate Business Labor and Technology Committee, and the Senate Joint Technology Committee.

Sen. Schwartz has been a champion of CHCs for years and prioritized access to high-quality, affordable health care during her legislative tenure. She summarized her priorities this way:

“Rural Coloradans should not have to settle for a quality of health care that is the least bit inferior to the care received by those who reside in more urban settings. Increased access to higher quality health care is one of my highest priorities. Whatever it takes – improved hospitals, clinics, tele-medicine, and policies which encourage doctors and nurses to locate and build their practices in rural Colorado – I am committed to bringing the highest quality health care to citizens in every corner of my District. Affordability is every bit as important as access and I will fight to reduce the ever-increasing costs of health care and prescription drugs.”

In 2013-2014, Sen. Schwartz was a key supporter of Mountain Family Health Centers’ efforts to expand primary health care services in Eagle County, Colo. Her support helped lead to a successful New Access Point award for the Mountain Family Edwards site, which will provide comprehensive medical, dental, and behavioral health care services to more than 3,500 vulnerable Coloradans annually starting in this year.

Sen. Schwartz supported action for lowering the cost of health insurance in Colorado’s rural resort areas, which in 2014 had the highest health insurance rate costs in the nation. Sen. Schwartz also sponsored Senate Bill 14-144: Family Medicine Residency Programs in Rural Areas, which extended the Commission on Family Medicine’s support of the development of family medicine residency programs in rural and other underserved areas of the state.

For her support of Community Health Centers during her tenure as a Colorado State Senator and her commitment to ensuring members of rural Colorado communities have access to high quality, affordable health care, CCHN is proud to honor Senator Gail Schwartz with the 2015 Health Champion Award.

Volunteer Clinician Community Health Champion Award
Each year, CCHN honors a clinician who provides volunteer services to a CHC. Each CHC relies on clinicians, especially those with specialties outside of primary health care, who live in the communities served to volunteer their services and expertise to CHC patients. CHCs could not do as much without their valuable help. The Volunteer Clinician Award is given 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, Dr. Randall Maharry, who donates his time and expertise to patients at Salud Family Health Centers, was selected for this award.

Dr. Maharry has volunteered with Salud Family Health Centers for the past ten years. He brings his skills and 40-plus years of experience as a dermatologist in Iowa to patients at Salud’s Estes Park clinic. He started volunteering while semi-retired, but like so many “retired” physicians, was interested in continuing his practice without the worry of the business aspect of the profession. For many of Salud’s patients, accessing specialty care, such as dermatology, is difficult and often impossible. Through his volunteer work, Dr. Maharry has made access to this much-needed service a reality for many of Salud’s patients.

In addition, he has developed a relationship with several local dermatologistsl, extending the network of providers performing procedures free of charge for Salud patients in facilities outside of the Salud clinic. Dr. Maharry is also responsible for starting a free annual skin screen clinic, which draws patients from across the community.

Dr. Maharry’s concern for his patients and level of perfectionism and professionalism is boundless. He has often taken time out of his vacations or other daily routines to consult on Salud patients. His generosity extends to the staff at the Salud Estes Park clinic, from his professional interaction at the clinic to his annual summer barbeque for staff and friends. Dr. Maharry exemplifies the goodness of the human spirit, a practicing humanitarian that it is an honor to have as part of the CHC family.

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
• Portraying the human faces of health care issues.

This year, CCHN selected Marci Krivonen, reporter for Aspen Public Radio, for her valuable reporting on health care issues in Colorado. Ms. Krivonen has been selected for her valuable reporting on health care issues on the Western Slope of Colorado. She has provided comprehensive coverage of the introduction to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how it has impacted patients in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Many CHCs are located in Colorado’s rural resort areas on the Western Slope, which have some of the highest insurance premiums in the country. Ms. Krivonen has covered the insurance rate issue in-depth while also informing listeners of the health care options available to them. She also reports on patients who are benefiting from having health insurance for the first time due to the ACA and expanded Medicaid coverage.

Ms. Krivonen has been a champion for Mountain Family Health Centers (MFHC) and CHCs statewide by portraying the human face of health care issues. She has visited several MFHC sites to meet with patients and providers to see how they interact and how current trends in the health care environment are affecting them. She has highlighted the growth in jobs that new CHC sites have brought to the area. Her reporting is well informed and depicts the medically underserved in a humane manner.

Civic engagement by CHC patients, staff, and community supporters helps elected officials understand the key role that CHCs have in many of Colorado’s communities and in the health care system. CCHN gives two awards to people who have worked hard to advocate on behalf of CHCs and to encourage others to do so as well.

Community Health Advocate Award
The 2015 Community Health Advocate Award celebrates Colleen Laeger, Board Chair at Salud Family Health Centers.

Ms. Laeger has been on the Salud Board of Directors since 1986, advocating on behalf of CHC patients and promoting the good work of Salud Family Health Centers throughout the Northern Colorado community. She is extremely active in the Northern Colorado community, and seems to know everyone. She is always willing to tap into these community connections to further the mission of Salud.

Because of her knowledge and support of Salud and the patients they serve, Ms. Laeger is never shy when advocating on behalf of Salud. She is well-prepared when discussing Salud’s needs with community-members and other stakeholders, and understands the value of grassroots advocacy. She always takes the time to respond to CCHN and National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) calls to action, and encourages the other Salud board members to do the same.

As a member of the Northern Colorado business community, Ms. Laeger understands and plays an active role in many of the issues affecting Salud and its patients. She knows about rural issues, water rights, farming issues, flood relief concerns, and small business concerns, to name a few. This knowledge is a valuable asset for Salud, as understanding all of the challenges facing the community members and Salud patients helps paint an accurate picture when advocating for the great work of Salud Family Health Centers.

When asked to share a few words about Colleen, John Santistevan, CEO of Salud, said:

“Colleen has always been a strong advocate for Community Health Centers. Colleen’s passion and in-depth knowledge of what Community Health Centers are about and her unwavering commitment to the mission are what makes her special. Colleen is an involved community and business member and is always analyzing how local politics or business decisions may affect Community Health Centers. I couldn’t think of a board member who is more engaged and deserving to this recognition.”

For Ms. Laeger’s energy, initiative, expertise, and community engagement, CCHN presented her with CCHN’s 2015 Community Health Advocate Award.

Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award
In 2014, CCHN introduced a new award called the Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award. This award was named in honor of Jerry Brasher, retired CEO of Salud Family Health Centers and a leader in the CHC movement in Colorado and nationally. The award is given each year at the CCHN P&I to a CHC executive who has been working at a CHC for ten 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.

Dave Myers, President and CEO of Metro Community Provider Network (MCPN) is the recipient of the 2015 Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award.

For the last 32 years, Mr. Myers has dedicated his life to affordable health care, CHCs, and their patients. In the late 1980s, a community group came together to solve the problem of health care access for the uninsured of suburban Denver. Their vision was a system of care spanning the entire circumference of the City of Denver. Mr. Myers was brought on in 1993 to make that vision a reality. Since then he, along with the MCPN Board of Directors, have been the stewards of that original vision.

MCPN was started in 1989 and serves clients from Arapahoe, Adams, Jefferson, Douglas, and Park Counties. MCPN currently operates in 23 locations situated in east, west, and south suburban Denver. The vision expanded to include comprehensive services such as oral health, patient navigation, and outreach and enrollment, and to address the needs of various special populations and communities of need. Additionally, under Mr. Myer’s leadership, MCPN has grown into an exemplary organization working towards fulfilling the goals of the Triple Aim: population health, cost efficiency and patient engagement.

Mr. Myers is on a first-name basis with many municipal, state, and federal legislators. As a long-time partner of CCHN and NACHC, Mr. Myers advocates on behalf of Community Health Centers nationwide. He works tirelessly with many organizations and the state, sitting on committees and working to create a better system of care for CHCs and the patients they serve.

He has been instrumental in bringing MCPN through the always-changing health care landscape from the rise and fall of Medicaid Managed Care to the advent of the Medical Home Model, into the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the ongoing integration of behavioral, physical, and oral health. His visionary leadership has paved the way in providing the community with the excellent, culturally sensitive health services to meet their needs. In addition, he is inspirational to the executive team, directors, managers, and staff of MCPN.

Mr. Myers exemplifies the Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award, and has lived and breathed the community health philosophy. Dave’s passion is evident in his encounters with patients, staff, community partners, and legislators…every touch, every time.

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For more information, please contact Maureen Maxwell at (303) 861-5165, Ext. 259, or

The Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN) is the unified voice for Colorado’s 18 Community Health Centers (CHCs) and their patients. CHCs provide a health care home to almost 650,000 of their community members – more than one in eight people in Colorado – from 60 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