Half a century later, Community Health Services here for present and future needs | News


When Aspen misplaced its solely public well being nurse in 1969, a bunch of involved residents mobilized in collective outcry. Inside two years, the Aspen Valley Visiting Nurses Affiliation, or AVVNA, shaped as a nonprofit.

The primary clinic, on Fundamental and Spring streets, was a humble one, with solely three nurses. They centered their care totally on residence visits for seniors, expectant moms, kids with disabilities and others who in any other case skilled difficulties accessing well being care.

Simply 5 years after the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court docket resolution in Roe v. Wade that dominated state bans on abortion are unconstitutional, AVVNA — later Group Well being Providers, Inc., within the early Eighties — was working as a Title X Household Planning Clinic in Pitkin County to assist guarantee anybody, no matter background or earnings, had entry to contraceptives and reproductive well being companies.

On the time, CHS was the one clinic within the county offering such companies, significantly confidential HIV and STD testing, defined Logan Hood, CHS affiliate director.

“That we have been actually doing that was ground-breaking within the sense of the early ’70s, by way of speaking STD remedy and testing at a time when HIV was simply popping out,” she stated. “And entry to contraception for girls when plenty of that was nonetheless very taboo.”

In some methods, the extra issues change, the extra they keep the identical.

“We have been groundbreaking on this work — that we nonetheless do at this time,” she stated.

And he or she anticipates that they’ll proceed providing household planning and ladies’s preventive well being care, along with its myriad different companies, for lengthy into the long run.

“Now we have a repute of simply assembly somebody the place they’re. There’s no different agenda however nonjudgmental care. Particularly with regards to ladies’s well being and household planning — [instead of] navigating it alone, which generally individuals are doing,” Hood stated.

However when the COVID-19 pandemic burst via the Aspen bubble, because it have been, CHS once more pivoted to lean right into a second of want in historical past.

“Now we have a long time of expertise defending the well being of our neighborhood, particularly round illness containment, illness prevention. We have been initially the general public well being division till a number of years in the past when Pitkin County Public Well being and Group Well being companies break up off in a method,” Hood stated.

After Pitkin County created a devoted public well being division in 2017, CHS remained the “medical arm … then actually labored in partnership with public well being regionally to actually defend and enhance the well being of the neighborhood and what these objectives are,” she continued.

CHS nurse Maggie Spence offers David Swift his second COVID-19 vaccine dose on April 30 within the Pitkin County Well being and Human Providers Constructing. 

Throughout the period of COVID-19, probably the most outstanding, overarching public well being purpose grew to become clear: administering as many vaccines as attainable to eligible Pitkin County residents. Already together with journey vaccines and flu pictures in its “menu” of companies, as Hood put it, CHS was prepared and in a position to assist.

Dr. Kim Levin, Pitkin County medical officer and emergency doctor who additionally serves on the CHS board of administrators, factors to the entity’s historical past as one of many chief causes for its potential to pivot so successfully throughout the pandemic.

“The historical past of CHS is actually rooted within the historical past of public well being in Pitkin County. CHS has performed a vital position within the pandemic and has collaborated intently with Pitkin County Public Well being, AVH and [many community partners],” she stated in an announcement. “Curiously, CHS has traditionally been the medical arm of public well being, offering on-site medical companies for the underserved, in addition to been the immunization useful resource for the neighborhood — along with many different companies together with WIC Vitamin, most cancers prevention, a prenatal program and extra. CHS is now tackling the big job of offering COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary — full with birthday hats, cupcakes and COVID-19 vaccines throughout an April 30 clinic within the Pitkin County Well being and Human Providers constructing — Hood famous that in planning for the subsequent half century, CHS management expects having to reply the decision of future widespread crises, together with different pandemics.


CHS employees line up, donning full birthday celebration equipment, throughout a COVID-19 vaccine clinic that additionally commemorated the nonprofit’s fiftieth anniversary since its 1971 inception.

“We undoubtedly are very proud to serve and are honored to be a part of the COVID-19 response; we’ve been working in partnership with the hospital and Pitkin County Well being to have the ability to do these clinics,” she stated. “I believe we do face a way forward for possibly extra pandemics. I believe as we’ve discovered via all of this COVID response, I believe we’re having to actually put together ourselves for possibly extra of that.”

Nonetheless, the group will always remember its roots, she stated. And with Pitkin County’s medical insurance premiums among the many costliest within the nation — nicely above the ninety fifth percentile — regardless of being one of many healthiest counties with one of many lowest mortality charges, Hood doesn’t anticipate the necessity for offering primary well being care companies to lower-income residents dwindling anytime quickly. Neither does CHS Govt Director Liz Stark.

“For a lot of, accessing CHS is their entry into the well being care system and in some circumstances, the one place folks obtain care. CHS fills the gaps and gives personalised, inexpensive, high quality care in a protected setting,” Stark stated in an announcement. “We consider all neighborhood members ought to have entry to inexpensive preventive well being companies.”

For her half, Hood stated that whereas progress has been made on the nationwide legislative stage, there may be nonetheless a lot to be achieved earlier than the price of well being care isn’t an element — and generally a debilitating one — in folks’s medical choices.

“I believe there was some groundwork, however we’ve got an extended technique to go,” she stated.

It wasn’t till the Inexpensive Care Act handed Congress and have become legislation in 2010, as an example, that CHS as a nonprofit was even in a position to logistically settle for insurance coverage, together with Medicaid.

“It made clinics like ours in a position to enter into that huge system,” she stated. “We have been in a position to supply that simply not that way back. It was very tough as a result of we have been a nonprofit, however I believe that did supply an alternative choice for people.”

Whereas funds made via non-public insurance coverage corporations comprise a comparatively small proportion of CHS income to assist offset the price of offering companies to these uninsured or underinsured, the group nonetheless depends closely on native philanthropy, Hood continued.

“You would haven’t any insurance coverage, and that shouldn’t decide whether or not you have got entry to well being or not,” she stated.

And to the roughly 60% of Pitkin County employees who truly stay downvalley, Hood emphasised that gaining access to well being care upvalley permits them to schedule receiving care round their workday. On the subject of extra common wants, like a flu vaccine, CHS even works with bigger employers to verify employees receives companies with out having to exit of their method.

“We truly do plenty of partnerships with motels, for instance, the place we are going to come and vaccinate — say it’s flu season, we’ll come and vaccinate their total employees. We go to them. We need to present the chance for folks to have a wholesome, operational [season],” she stated.

Shifting ahead, CHS anticipates increasing its companies much more, past planning for the subsequent pandemic, ought to one happen.

“We’ve undoubtedly advanced to contemplate this integrative well being care — the place it’s not nearly prenatal care or getting your contraception, however possibly the entire individual and all the opposite social determinants of well being: housing, meals safety, psychological well being,” Hood stated. “They actually do all work in tandem and have an effect on human well being. I see that greater than ever being the way in which we will reply and be stronger collectively … so we will hold Aspen open and hold folks with jobs and have a wholesome yard.”


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