Nonprofit Believes that Affordable Care is a “Human Right”
“We at Mountain Family Health Centers have been working diligently to expand. We want to be able to provide affordable health care to low-income residents of our region who do not yet have access to our services,” says Ross Brooks, Mountain Family’s chief executive officer. “We believe that access to affordable health care is a human right, not a privilege.”
An expansion in Basalt will help the nonprofit Mountain Family Health Center (MFHC) achieve that goal. In early 2018, MFHC’s Basalt clinic, currently located at 234 Cody Lane, will move across the street to the former Bristlecone Mountain Sports space at 123 Emma Road, significantly expanding its services. MFHC recently began a fund-raising effort to support that growth.
Noting that all of MFHC’s health centers—in Basalt, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Edwards and Avon—are currently near or at capacity, CEO Brooks explains, “We need the community to come together so that we can expand our sites and services. In Basalt, for example, we don’t have a dentist. We would like to add one. We also want to expand the number of behavioral providers on site.”
Currently, the Basalt clinic cares for 1,500 patients annually. The new clinic site will not only offer care to 3,500 persons, it will also incorporate dental services into its integrated care model. The Basalt clinic’s services currently include primary care and behavioral health services.
Welcoming All Ages and Income Levels
Mountain Family Health Centers’ mission is to provide high-quality, integrated primary medical, behavioral, and dental health care in the mountain communities it serves with special consideration for the medically under-served, regardless of ability to pay. It welcomes Medicare patients.
“I was pleased by the welcome I got at Mountain Family’s Glenwood Springs clinic,” commented Nicolette Toussaint, a part-time editor and writer who lives in Carbondale. “I recently reached Medicare age, and I was frankly worried. I have seen signs posted in medical facilities that all but push seniors out the door. Medicare is not welcome. What’s more, some of the ‘medical’ practices I dropped in on while shopping for a new doctor seemed more interested in selling cosmetic surgery than in primary care.”
“When I met Dr. Sarah Kathleen Rieves, my new doc, I was impressed,” Toussaint continued. “I had some eye inflammation recently and Dr. Rieves not only knew what I should do to control it, she knew that it was an allergy and that junipers were causing it! I told her that I was astonished to find that she actually knew which allergens were in season. She’s a GP, so I wasn’t expecting her to be an allergy specialist.” Rieves, a family practitioner, told Toussaint that she has worked in several far-flung Colorado towns, including those that suffer from air pollution from nearby oil and gas fields. Because of that, Rieves has made an effort to learn about allergies and asthma.
Caring for Families and Children
Mountain Family Health Centers upholds the maxim “our family caring for yours” by providing integrated medical, behavioral and dental health care—and by making sure that care is available when and where it is needed. MFHC’s “care teams” perform above the national clinical outcome goals for childhood immunizations, tobacco screening and cessation, depression screening, diabetes management, hypertension management and prenatal care.
Currently, Mountain Family serves more than 17,000 residents of Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin and Rio Blanco Counties. MFHC serves 50 percent of our region’s low-income families whose income spans from zero to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
In real terms, the majority of MFHC’s patients live on less than $24,000 per year (for a single individual) or less than $49,000 per year (for a family of four). Annually, MFHC drives $15.7 million in local positive economic impacts, including jobs and tax revenues, and an additional $18.1 million in healthcare cost savings by reducing unnecessary hospital utilization.
“One of the common misconceptions is that we are free clinic,” says CEO Brooks. “We’re not. You come in and declare your income. People pay on a sliding fee scale. Some folks pay $20 per visit. But patients themselves do pay for their care; everyone contributes.”
For more information about becoming a Mountain Family Health Centers patient, or to become involved in the Basalt capital campaign, please visit MountainFamily.org, or contact Garry Schalla, development director, at email@example.com.