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Public/Private Health Hybrids Fill Gaps in CO Health System

June 1, 2010

DENVER - Colorado's health care system isn't always as simple as going to a public or private provider. Many families and children in the state get medical care and other services from public-private hybrids. One such organization is The Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics (RMYC), which calls itself a private practice of public health. RMYC recently received a leadership award from The Colorado Trust for its work, and executive director Larry Wolk says they receive private donations, bill public or private insurance, and basically do whatever they can to make sure no Colorado children with a high level of need for health care are turned away.

"I mean kids who are uninsured, under-insured, who have trouble accessing services in traditional settings."

Wolk says part of The Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics' goal is to create what he calls a 'medical home' for children and families that provides more than just a routine check-up.

"We provide food, clothing. We have a literacy program. We can provide books."

Deidre Johnson, program officer with The Colorado Trust, says programs like The Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics have filled important gaps in the health care system, both in urban and rural parts of the state that are under-served by health care providers.

"Not only do they not have access to care, but the demand may not seem to be large enough for, let's say, a pediatrician, to set up shop."

The RMYC sets up pediatric clinics and provides services around the state in under-served communities, in schools and even via mobile clinics. It doesn't receive federal funding as do Community Health Centers, instead raising money through foundations, and business and individual donations.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO