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National Recognition Could Help Boost Health Center Workforce

Colorado's 20 community health centers provide medical and dental homes for more than 740,000 Coloradans in communities that otherwise would not have access to services. (Flickr)
Colorado's 20 community health centers provide medical and dental homes for more than 740,000 Coloradans in communities that otherwise would not have access to services. (Flickr)
August 20, 2018

GREELEY, Colo. – Three community health centers in Colorado have received national recognition for excellent care, and health officials are hoping to leverage the awards to recruit and retain staff at centers across the state.

Clinica, Salud and Sunrise family health centers got top honors late last week from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Jessica Sanchez, vice president for quality and operations for Colorado Community Health Network, says the awards place the centers among the top 30 percent nationwide.

"The health centers met or exceeded clinical benchmarks for all of the clinical measures in at least one of the three categories,” she explains. “One is chronic disease – so diabetes, asthma, hypertension, cardiovascular disease."

The other major categories include preventive and prenatal care.

Sanchez notes each center is ranked by its ability to address health disparities for a complex and challenging patient population that includes people experiencing homelessness, those without insurance, and individuals with mental illness or chronic diseases.

Cindy McDade, director of quality and improvement at Sunrise Community Health, says her group is constantly monitoring and submitting a wide range of clinical data sets designed to track improvement, or lapses, in care.

But she says behind each number is a patient.

"And what we do here in the clinic is, we look at those measures every month,” she explains. “And what we're really trying to do is find out 'who's got a work flow that's working, and how do we emulate that work flow, and kind of train all of the rest of the staff to do what that team is doing?' "

Sanchez says the national recognition helps to retain providers and also supports professional development for medical assistants, nurses and even front-line staff who check in patients to work in teams.

"Workforce is a big issue, especially in our rural areas,” she states. “It's difficult to recruit and also retain great workforce who want to work in a very remote location."

All 20 of Colorado's health centers were recognized for continued efforts to improve quality by Health and Human Services' s annual quality improvement awards.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO