Colorado Community Health Champions and Advocate Leaders Celebrated

February 20, 2014


Maureen Maxwell, CCHN
(303) 861-5165, ext. 259
(303) 913-9078 (mobile)
[email protected]

Colorado Community Health Champions and Advocate Leaders Celebrated

DENVER – Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN) presented the annual Community Health Champion awards Feb. 19, 2014, honoring two state legislators, a physician who has volunteered for years at a Community Health Center (CHC), and a news channel. 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 Representative Crisanta Duran, House District 5: Legislator Community Health Champion
  • Colorado State Senator Larry Crowder, Senate District 35: Legislator Community Health Champion
  • Dr. Samuel Husbands Langstaff Jr., Sheridan Health Services, Volunteer Clinician Community Health Champion Award
  • 9News, Denver, Media Community Health Champion Award
  • Mitzi Moran, president and CEO, Sunrise Community Health, Community Health Advocate Award
  • Paul Melinkovitch, M.D., executive director of Community Health Services, Denver Health, Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award


Legislator Community Health Champion Awards

The 2014 Legislator Community Health Champion awards were given to Colorado State Representative Crisanta Duran, House District 5, and Colorado State Senator Larry Crowder, Senate District 35. 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.

Rep. Duran is the chair of the House Appropriations Committee and the vice-chair of the Joint Budget Committee. Throughout her time in office, Rep. Duran has been a supporter of CHCs and of CCHN’s policy priorities. During the 2013 legislative session, she supported a bill to eliminate the three-month waiting period in the Child Health Plan Plus program, the bill to expand Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, a bill to create an adult dental benefit for Medicaid clients, and a bill for the creation of oral health community programs.

In addition to her support of Community Health Centers, Rep. Duran has a strong commitment to issues that impact the populations served by CHCs and has supported legislation to ensure equal rights and opportunities for these populations, including a bill during the 2013 legislative session allowing qualified undocumented students to receive in-state tuition.

Sen. Crowder was elected to the Colorado State Senate in 2012. Senate District 35 encompasses a vast swath of southern Colorado, including parts of Pueblo County, and all of Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Custer, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers, Rio Grande, and Saguache counties – from Creed to Kansas. Sen. Crowder serves on the Health and Human Services Committee. Sen. Crowder is emblematic of real rural Colorado values that place constituents, friends and neighbors above politics. Sen. Crowder has a lifetime of treating all of his peers with the dignity and respect that CHCs strive to provide patients population on a daily basis.

Sen. Crowder began his lifetime of service early in his career in the United States Army. This experience, along with his rural upbringing in the Lower Arkansas Valley, instilled in him many of the values he continues to exhibit today.

One of the biggest wins for Coloradans and CHCs has been the expansion of Medicaid. This expansion will allow those that are typically served by CHCs and are now eligible for Medicaid coverage to have the access they deserve to primary care and the specialty care they need. In 2013, both of Colorado’s legislative chambers passed the statute authorizing the Medicaid expansion. Sen. Crowder, recognizing that service to his constituents on this issue was imperative, voted in favor of this expansion and was the only member of his party to do so. He recognized that support for the Medicaid expansion was the moral choice and the most financially sound decision to insure the future of the health care structure in rural Colorado.

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. Samuel Husbands Langstaff Jr., who donates his time and expertise to patients at Sheridan Health Services, was selected for this award.

Dr. Langstaff has volunteered with Sheridan Health Services since 2000. Over the past 13 years, Dr. Langstaff has been seeing patients two days a week on a pro-bono basis. He has worked tirelessly to develop specialty referral resources, using his contacts from private family practice. Dr. Langstaff also works to raise funds for patients unable to pay for required medical visits, laboratory, imaging, or medications. Through his work with the Littleton Rotary Club, a scholarship has been developed to provide medically underserved patients with the means to obtain imaging, labs, medical visit copays, and medications.

Dr. Langstaff also has a passion for educating community members and clinicians about the medically underserved. In addition to serving as an Assistant Professor for the University of Colorado College of Nursing and School of Medicine, Dr. Langstaff has directed in-service lectures specific to the medically underserved population and has also led high school lectures encouraging students to pursue careers working in family medicine.

Dr. Langstaff works closely with clinic staff, helping to develop talent and mentoring staff to reach their optimal scope of practice. He also advocates for the providers caring for the underserved population by recommending appropriate hours and pay.

There are few physicians that can claim 13 years of volunteer service for one organization. Sheridan has been through many changes in those 13 years, including becoming a federally qualified Community Health Center. Dr. Langstaff has remained part of the team through all of those changes. His attitude, sense of humor, and commitment to patients and staff has been a true blessing to the Sheridan Health Services clinic.

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 9News for their valuable reporting on health care issues in Colorado. 9News has provided extensive coverage on the challenges faced by health care consumers and health care providers, including coverage of health care reform themes with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

From reporting on Colorado’s uninsured population, to information on cancer research; from stories about the challenges in primary care, to stories about a three-year grant program from the Colorado Trust for a mobile van that drives around town signing individuals up for insurance, 9News goes above and beyond to put health care and the health of Coloradans in the spotlight.

9News reporters always take care to depict families, children, and patients in a humane and respectful manner.

Also, 9News has given continuing attention to the importance of health care careers, and to the need for trained health care providers in all the roles needed in medicine, dentistry, mental health care, private, and community settings. 9News has helped communities know that there are good health care careers available to Coloradans doing work from which all benefit. Their approach to news reporting is honest and thoughtful.

CCHN presenters also recognizes 9News reporter Amelia Earhart, for her work supporting Metro Community Provider Network (MCPN), a CHC caring for communities in Arapahoe, Adams, Jefferson, Douglas, and Park counties. Ms. Earhart has been a long-time friend and supporter of MCPN, taking the time to emcee their annual Green Tie Gala and visit many of their clinic sites.


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 2014 Community Health Advocate Award was presented to Mitzi Moran, president and chief executive officer of Sunrise Community Health. This award has been given at CCHN’s annual Policy and Issues Forum since 2008. The awardee is selected by CCHN staff.

Ms. Moran has been with Sunrise for 16 years, working tirelessly to advocate on behalf of CHC patients and promoting the good work of Sunrise Community Health throughout the Northern Colorado community as a whole. Under her advocacy leadership over the past 10 years, Sunrise Community Health has increased the number of patients it has been able to serve by more than 10,000.

In addition, Ms. Moran reminds her staff of the importance of voter engagement and seeking new and innovative ideas for encouraging patients to register to vote. Between January and July of 2013, Sunrise staff registered 165 voters.

In 2013, Sunrise celebrated its 40th anniversary. As a part of this celebration, Ms. Moran took the time to remind Sunrise staff and board members of the history of Sunrise, as well as the importance of grassroots advocacy through weekly “Friday Fun Facts” emails. With these emails and other tactics, she encouraged her staff to sign up as CHC advocates and speak up to their elected officials. Due to Ms. Moran’s continued follow-up and encouragement of her staff to sign up as CHC advocates, Sunrise became a winner of CCHN’s first ever Advocacy Challenge, increasing their registered advocates by 56 percent between the months of March and August.

Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award

CCHN introduced a new award called the Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award. This award was named in honor of Jerry Brasher, recently retired CEO of Salud Family Health Centers and a leader in the Community Health Center movement in Colorado and nationally. The award will be 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.

The recipient of the inaugural 2014 Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award is Dr. Paul Melinkovich, director of Community Health Services at Denver Health, a nationally recognized integrated safety-net health delivery system. He oversees the primary care delivery system at Denver Health that includes a network of eight CHC clinics, an urgent care facility, 15 school-based health centers, and a women’s mobile clinic.

Dr. Melinkovich has advocated on behalf of Colorado CHCs at both the state and national levels, ensuring Denver Health staff and board members understand and support the policy priorities selected on behalf of the CHCs by CCHN and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) each year. Dr. Melinkovich has developed and maintained important relationships with Colorado’s members of Congress and state representatives that have led to important policy achievements at the state and national levels.

Dr. Melinkovich has participated in NACHC “fly-Ins,” traveling to Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress and White House officials about the critical and extensive role CHCs have in providing access to health care across the nation, and the need to maintain federal support for CHCs.

He has been a member of the Colorado Medical Services Board since 2007, where he worked to assure that the needs of CHCs and the patients they care for were taken into consideration during the regulatory process.

Dr. Melinkovich is a board certified pediatrician. He was a founding member of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, and served as their second board president.  He is the past-president of the Board of Directors of the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Colorado Commission for Improving Value in Health Care.

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 For more information, please contact Maureen Maxwell at (303) 861-5165, Ext. 259, cell (303)913-9078, or [email protected].

The Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN) is the unified voice for Colorado’s 19 Community Health Centers (CHCs) and their patients. CHCs provide a health care home to more than 600,000 of their community members – over one in 10 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