Community Health Champions Honored by Colorado Community Health Centers

DENVER―Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN) presented its 2020 awards for Community Health Champions and Community Health Advocates at CCHN’s annual Policy and Issues Forum in Denver Feb. 5, 2020. These awards honor remarkable people who improve the health of Coloradans. The awards honor state legislators, journalists, and clinicians who volunteer their services to Community Health Center (CHC) patients and staff. In addition, CCHN honors CHC staff members who have been leading advocates on behalf of CHCs and the communities they serve.

Legislator Awards

Senator Leroy Garcia Jr., State Senate District 3; and Representative Dylan Roberts Kennedy, State House District 26, were selected for CCHN’s 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 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.

Sen. Garcia was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2012, to the Senate in 2014, and was chosen as Senate President in 2019. He serves as vice chair for the Executive Committee of the Legislative Council and for the Legislative Council. His voting record on CCHN priority legislation and health care issues is strongly supportive. He has led funding efforts to develop clinician access to Medication Assisted Treatment or MAT certification and expand access to MAT for the patients that CHCs serve. In addition, he has worked hard to pass innovative policies aimed at moving health care upstream and lowering health care costs.

“Senator Garcia’s support of CHCs and health care issues in steadfast,” said Donald Moore, CEO of Pueblo Community Health Center, Inc. “He has accepted every meeting invitation I have extended to him. This includes site visits as well as meeting in the community. He graciously hosts Pueblo Community Health Center’s delegation at the Capitol every year during the CCHN P&I and is always thinking of the patients we serve when making a decision about health care legislation, often reaching out to learn more about the potential impact.”

Rep. Roberts represents House District 26 serving Eagle and Routt counties. He is vice chair of the Capital Development Committee, chair of the Rural Affairs and Agriculture Committee, and a member of the Judiciary Committee. He was elected to the House in 2016. He also serves as the deputy district attorney for Eagle County.

Rep. Roberts grew up in Routt County and has a deep understanding of the unique issues that impact the western slope, including health care access and affordability issues. During the 2019 Legislative Session, Rep. Roberts sponsored several bills to address health care affordability, including HB19-1004 proposing the development of a public option in Colorado, and HB19-1216 to reduce insulin prices by capping the cost to patients. In this session, Rep. Roberts was the first representative to cosponsor HB20-1092 to permit CHCs to be paid for telemedicine visits and to include the costs of clinical pharmacists in CHC cost reports submitted to Health First Colorado, Colorado’s Medicaid Program.

“Rep. Roberts began meeting with Mountain Family Health Centers leadership long before he was elected to the state House of Representatives,” said Ross Brooks, CEO of MFHC. “Several years ago, he reached out to me and asked to have a coffee in the town of Eagle so he could start to learn about the health care issues in the local community. He is a great listener, asks great questions, takes notes, and then follows through with what he says he will do, which in my estimation makes for an outstanding public servant.”

Media Award

John Daley, health care reporter for Colorado Public Radio, is the recipient of CCHN’s 2020 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.  This award 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.

Mr. Daley has reported on many health care issues, focusing in recent years on health care issues for teens, including vaping, mental health and school shootings, and the impact of phone use on health. He has also reported thoughtfully and factually on the opioid and other substance use disorder epidemic in the state.

“John has an inquisitive and open mind. He seeks out all sides of a story, and is especially good at going to the front lines to find out what is happening to patients and the health care teams that care for him,” said Simon Hambidge, CEO of Denver Health’s Community Services. “I especially remember after ACA Medicaid expansion had kicked in and we had just opened our new Peña Family Health Center in SW Denver. John came to the clinic and spent time interviewing providers and patients, releasing a very in-depth and insightful story about the clinic and the people it serves.”

Volunteer Clinician Award

Dr. Michael Savage, who donates his time and expertise to patients at Summit Community Care Clinic (SCCC), received CCHN’s 2020 Volunteer Clinician Community Health Champion Award.

Each Community Health Center 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 CHC, advocate on behalf of the medically underserved, and have provided volunteer services for a minimum of three years.

Dr. Savage has been providing volunteer oral surgery care with Summit Community Care Clinic for more than six years. He came into the clinic on his own accord several years ago to see if he could be of service as he began his semi-retirement. Since that time, he has provided care two-to-three days a month. Without him, patients would have to travel a significant distance over mountain passes to access oral surgery care. He has donated much of his own equipment and has provided education to patients experiencing more difficult oral health issues, including navigating a cancer diagnosis.

“Dr. Savage has the warmest bedside manner of any provider. He sees our patients for difficult tooth extractions and biopsies, which we all know can be incredibly nerve-racking. He has a calming demeanor and assures patients of his skills and expertise, allowing them to feel at ease in his care,” explained Helen Royal, CEO of SCCC. “Dr. Savage also takes the time to mentor and instruct Summit staff. He has spent numerous hours mentoring our DDS staff as well as our Dental Assistant team. He is patient and kind at all times when interacting with staff and patients.”

Advocacy Awards

In addition to the annual Community Health Champion Awards, CCHN presents two advocacy awards each year to individuals selected from among the staff of Colorado CHCs. This year, the Community Health Advocate Award was presented to Jennifer Morse, Vice President of Development for Salud Family Health Centers. The Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award was presented to Dr. Lucy Loomis, the director of family medicine for Denver Health.

Since 2008, CCHN staff have recognized an advocate of the year during the Policy and Issues Forum.  Ms. Morse has been a long-standing CHC advocate, working for 15 years at Salud, and has been a part of the CHC movement even longer. During that time, she has been an energetic force advocating at both the state and federal level for Salud and for CHCs. She infuses energy into her advocacy work and inspires staff at CCHN, Salud, and across the state to mobilize for action.

“Jennifer isn’t just an advocate for Salud externally, she’s also an advocate for Salud’s patients and families,” said Polly Anderson, CCHN’s Vice President of Strategy and Financing as she presented the award. “In 2017, she helped bring a herd of dinosaur mascots, the Salud Dynamos, out of extinction and into the clinics. These mascots visit schools around the area and help families feel more comfortable and excited to visit the health center.”

CCHN’s Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy Alice Steiner offered this about Ms. Morse: “Jen is always thinking of innovative ways for Salud staff to remain engaged in advocacy. She works to ensure that Salud is one of the best performing CHCs in the nation when it comes to responding to action alerts and incorporating advocacy into staff culture. She is always willing to share ideas and materials with other CHCs and has helped to make Colorado one of the states that is often looked to for our advocacy efforts. She has helped me, personally, in thinking creatively about advocacy and there is no one more deserving of this award.”

CCHN’s other advocacy award, the Stanley J. Brasher Community Health Gratitude Award, is named in honor of Jerry Brasher, former CEO of Salud Family Health Centers and one of CCHN’s founders. The award is given 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.

Dr. Lucy Loomis, the 2020 recipient of the Brasher Gratitude Award, is Denver Health’s director of family medicine and an associate professor of family medicine and preventive medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She has more than 30 years of experience at Denver Health, and more than 10 years of experience as an expert in Lean Systems analysis, which she uses to apply process improvement to many areas including clinic flow, improving cancer screening, and other areas. She also provided clinical leadership to the Colorado CCHN Board of Directors for six years and she engages in policy and advocacy through the CCHN and NACHC Policy & Issues Forums.

Jessica Sanchez, CCHN’s VP of Quality and Operations, described Dr. Loomis this way: “Dr. Loomis and I worked together at La Casa Family Health Center for five years. I was able to directly observe her commitment to the patients of north Denver. The community of north Denver looked to Dr. Loomis as an advocate, health care provider and trusted confidant. Dr. Loomis gracefully managed her patient panel in addition to providing clinical leadership to the providers and staff at La Casa. Dr. Loomis would go beyond the 15-minute visit. She would treat each patient respectfully and give them additional time to address their concerns. There were many times when Dr. Loomis would be running over time but patients would wait to see her, often into the late evening hour.”

Dr. Loomis has demonstrated her abilities to lead and advocate for health access to underserved populations on both the state and federal levels. Dr. Loomis is seen as a leader in health care by her peers and has been a mentor to several new medical directors across Colorado.

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To interview any of the award recipients, please contact Maureen Maxwell at (303) 67-9530, cell (303)913-9078, or