Small organization aims to make big impact on health in Northwest Colorado | CraigDailyPress.com

Small organization aims to make big impact on health in Northwest Colorado

Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership Executive director Ken Davis and Regional Health Connector Stephanie Monahan.

— The Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership isn't new — it has operated under Northwest Colorado Health for years — but the organization recently branched off, gaining 501c3 nonprofit status and its independence.

The organization serves Rio Blanco, Moffat, Routt, Jackson and Grand counties.

Throughout the region are seven community care coordinators, including one full-time and one part-time in Moffat County, all managed by Megan Geraets.

Her team works with health care patients who might benefit from connecting with additional resources, other organizations or information about issues such as housing and food assistance.

"What this (the new organization) means for Moffat County is having close connections to improve to lives of people. We want Moffat County residents to know we are here," Garaets said.

Care coordinators think beyond what information is usually given to a patient at a doctor's office or hospital and instead consider a person's overall situation and consider the obstacles facing a person achieving good health then aim to bridge any gaps.

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"It's really important to think about all aspects that make up health," said Stephanie Monahan, a regional health connector for the new partnership.

While care coordinators are on the front lines working with patients, Monahan and NCCHP Executive Director Ken Davis consider the bigger picture when it comes to improving the overall health of Northwest Colorado.

"We are using strong relationships with United Way, Grand Futures, Colorado Northwestern Community College, The Memorial Hospital, Northwest Colorado Health and Mind Springs Health to work around the ideas of implementing broad-based, trauma-informed care within the community," Davis said.

Part of the work includes studying resources that contribute to improving health available in the region and what's missing and Monahan highlighted transportation and housing as two obvious areas of concern.

"These are big issues that will take time to figure out," she said.

According to Monahan, research suggests that medical care is only a small part of what contributes to a healthy population, and other factors — such as genetics, social circumstances and the environment — combine to play a larger role.

"There is great work already happening in Moffat County… the work of the partnership will really be able to amplify and leverage that work and bring to light additional areas where we, as a community, need to focus," Monahan said.

For more information about the partnership, visit ncchealthpartnership.org, the organization’s new website.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.