Mountain Family Health Center 35th year

Barbara Lawlor
Black HawkMountain Family Health Center

Thirty-five years ago, a health clinic was created in Black Hawk in a Welsh-built rock building on the side of the road on the way to Central City. Later, when gambling came to the mountains, the present building was purchased in partnership with St. Anthony’s Hospital and the Blake family of Black Hawk donated the land.
When the first clinic began, it was probably the most celebrated improvement in the area for decades. A steep staircase led to the entrance and it was old, and historic, from the mining days, but it was much needed and it was named the Columbine Family Health Center.
Last Friday, August 16, the health center, now known as the Mountain Family Health Center, celebrated 35 years of serving the community. Former board members and former staff members and patients gathered in the parking lot at the new site and enjoyed lunch while they reminisced about the good ol’ days.
Tom Lambrecht, a board member, chatted with Fabyan Watrous, who was a board member from 2003-2009 and they marveled at the changes that had taken place in the last decade.
Nurse Practitioner Carol Holdcroft became employed by the MFHC in 1990 when it was housed in the upper bay of the Nederland Shopping Center. She left and worked in Boulder for a while and then came back to work in Black Hawk about a year ago.
“I remember when there used to be three staff members and that was it. Now there are three providers, two practitioners and a physician’s assistant,” says Carol. “And the population we serve has changed quite a bit.”
MFHC facilities now include three clinics on the western slope, with Black Hawk being the only federal facility on the Eastern slope.
Last week, Gilpin County’s own Senator Jeanne Nicholson, Colorado District 16,
proclaimed, “I would like to honor Mountain Family Health Centers for 35 years of service to the people of Colorado mountain communities, and encourage participation in their National Health Center Week celebrations.”
MFHC has come a long way from the long climb up those rickety steps. It is now a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides essential health services to the people of Eagle, Gilpin, Garfield, Pitkin, Clear Creek, Jefferson, Rio Blanco, and
Boulder Counties. More often than not, MFHC is the sole regional option of crucial
primary care and disease management for a wide range patients‚ many of whom struggle
with chemical addiction, mental illness, domestic abuse, chronic disease, and effects of extreme poverty‚ regardless of their income or insurance statuses.
Nicholson added that beyond the valuable service that MFHC provides directly to their patient population, the MFHC administration, providers, and staff are relentless leaders in the primary care field‚ committed to the development of affordable and effective community health practices and partnerships.
Mountain Family’s four sites in Black Hawk, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, and Basalt are home to much of the pioneering work that is being done in Colorado to create cost effective community health care models that put an emphasis on the mitigation of wide variety of risk factors that contribute to the incidence of preventable chronic diseases.
By offering patient-centered, comprehensive care practices to traditionally underinsured patient demographics, MFHC helps to control health care spending by reducing unnecessary health expenses (via reductions in ER use, hospital re-admissions, and high-cost imaging).
This year‚ National Health Center Week theme showcases the multitude of ways in which America’s health centers are actively changing, supplying innovation, and improving the health of their communities. Along with the free BBQ, gifts and games, there was a patient education booth displaying information on the variety of services Mountain Family Health Centers offer. Those who attended learned more about MFHC‚ recent recognition as a Patient Centered Medical Home, how to use the Patient Portal on www.mountainfamily.org and financial aid programs that are available to the public. MFHC encourages residents to Like them on Facebook and encourage patients to sign up as Colorado Health Center advocates.

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