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Local groups awarded money by nonprofit foundation

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A statewide non-profit foundation focused on improving the health care needs of residents has awarded two Moffat County organizations with grant money totaling about $85,000.

Caring for Colorado, an organization based in Denver that supports programs addressing community health care needs, announced Tuesday that it has awarded money to Colorado West Regional Mental Health, Inc., and the Independent Life Center.

Colorado West Regional Mental Health, Inc., received $64,560. The money will pay for the establishment of telepsychiatry sites in Moffat County and other Northwest Colorado communities.

Regional Director Tom Gangel wasn't available for comment Tuesday. Business Manager Chris Anderson said the telepsychiatry sites are versions of a video conferencing system allowing a psychiatrist or mental health care professional to meet with clients in a different location.

For instance, she said the sites allow patients in Meeker or Rangely to meet with their doctor in Steamboat Springs without having to travel. She said the sites are valuable to providing health care to patients throughout the region.

The Independent Life Center, an organization that began in 1997 and provides services to a variety of area people with disabilities, including the hearing impaired, those with learning disabilities and chronic mental illness, will receive $20,000 from Caring for Colorado.

ILC Director Evelyn Tileston said the $20,000 will nearly pay for the year's transportation services. The transportation service costs about $28,000 per year to operate.

"It's wonderful," Tileston said of the ILC receiving the grant money.

The grant money will allow the transportation service to expand operations from four days a week to five days a week.

The grant money also frees up other ILC funds, enabling the organization to hire a much-needed new pair of hands at its office, 483 Yampa Ave.

The ILC began in 1997 as a volunteer-run organization that received no state funding. Today, it has paid employees and serves about 300 people.

Other services provided by the ILC include job coaching, training and skills for daily living, advocacy and rent subsidies.

Since 2003, when it began offering its transportation service, the ILC has provided people with more than 6,500 rides to Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.

Caring for Colorado began its grant program in 2001. Since then it has awarded more than $34 million to communities across the state to increase access to care for underserved populations, according to the organization.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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