Gilpin Commissioners address MFHC closing

Lynn Hirshman, Gilpin County.  On September 8, the Gilpin County Commissioners held their third meeting to discuss how to provide interim services in light of the fact that Mountain Family Health Center had decided to close their Black Hawk clinic.

The director, Ross Brooks, and local board member Tom Lambrecht had made it known to the County that the closing might be “inevitable, as was the case with the Idaho Springs and Nederland clinic closings.”

The decline in patient visits over the years made closing the obvious decision, Brooks said, and added that, given that Gilpin is a hybrid county—mountain rural/bedroom commute—the Board began to be aware that most Gilpin residents get their health care in the Metro area, along with those other services a small county cannot provide locally.

MFHC clinics will remain open in Glenwood Springs, Basalt, Edwards and Rifle.

In attendance at the meeting:
Ross Brooks, MFHC Director
Janet McDougal, MFHC
Brandon Daruna, Gilpin Ambulance Authority Director
Erin Gibbs, Gilpin Ambulance Authority Deputy Director
Betty Donovan, Human Services Director
Debby Henkens, ACA Health Services Guide
Roger Baker, Gilpin County Manager
Peggy Rothe, former Public Health Nurse
Connie McLain, Gilpin County Commissioner
Gail Watson, Gilpin County Commissioner

This group had resolved to collect and discuss various options for Gilpin residents in need of health care. They decided to follow through on the following actions:

1. Prepare an alternative application for the DOLA gaming impact funds that would allow us to provide transport to clinics identified by MFHC as new providers for patients. Attend the Denver Regional Mobility and Access Council (DRMAC) meeting on regional transportation on September 17.

2. Meet with Clear Creek County and again with Jefferson County (Gilpin’s current Public Health contract provider) to find the best fit and look towards providing some level of nursing care in the county.

3. Help MFHC continue their outreach to the approximately 300 patients per year who rely on them for chronic care. The Ambulance Authority has offered to work with them on the resident needs.

According to Commissioner Gail Watson, “We have a bit of a perfect storm with the closing of the clinic and the resignation of our Public Health nurse. The trend in Public Health is to move away from individual clinical care, but a small county such as Gilpin requires that we explore all options and we are still in that research phase.”