2021 has already been a whirlwind of a year for us here at Mountain Family. While we spent the majority of 2020 focused on COVID testing, in just two and a half months, we have given more vaccines than tests conducted since the start of the pandemic.
On January 20th we started administering the COVID-19 vaccine and as of the end of March we’ve administered 4,210 vaccines to our community members. This includes both first and second doses. As we head into April, 1,627 of our friends, relatives and neighbors have received both doses from Mountain Family. We are now excited to offer vaccine to all community members 18 and order per the latest guidance in from the state
We have had a lot of questions about our vaccine process so, I thought I would provide a quick glimpse into the work behind the clinics which dictates our processes.
All vaccine providers place orders with the state on a weekly basis for the next week and the state doesn’t tell us until Friday afternoon or Sunday how many doses will be sent. This has been a variable process, so we don’t start scheduling anyone for a first dose until Monday afternoons when we know what we’ll have on hand.
Once we know what we’ll have on hand, we open the schedules and notify staff. Team members start making calls to people who are our patients and qualify, and those who have signed up on our website. This is largely done in-between regular responsibilities and patient care.
Probably the most important component that drives our workflows is timing!
Delivery – we don’t receive the shipment of vaccines until Tuesday or Wednesday, this limits our ability to have vaccine clinics earlier in the week
2.5 hours – we receive the vaccines frozen and this is the time needed for them to thaw at room temperature. Our morning clinics store them overnight in the refrigerator to thaw.
6 hours – that is how long we have to administer all doses from a vial once the first needle is inserted into the vial
10-12 –the number of doses we get from a vial depending on the needle size we’ve received that week.
This means once we puncture a vial, we need to have 10-12 people ready to be vaccinated and is why we book everything in blocks.
15 minutes – The observation period. During this time, we are making sure that no one has an allergic reaction to the vaccine, and we’re prepared if someone dose.
Documentation and 2nd doses
When we give the last vaccine for the day our work is not done. Every vaccine is documented in our Electronic Health Record, reported to the state’s tracking system, and second doses are scheduled.
This process has been exhausting but also rewarding. We’ve had cookies dropped off for us as thanks, pizza delivered to us on occasion, and many, many grateful patients expressing their gratitude. Some patients have even made generous donations. We’ve also gotten to meet a lot of people’s dogs, which is a personal highlight.
We are hopeful this is bringing us to the end of this pandemic but remind you to hold out just a little longer – please continue to wear your mask and wash your hands!
If you are still looking to get your vaccine, we have 3 ways that you can get signed up:
Schedule your own appointment through the patient portal
by Dr. Casey Aquirre Time and time again I see Mary providing excellent care and her patients let us know how great she is for MFHC. Not only does she consistently work to care for her patients but is always willing to take an extra shift to help me out when I need a break. I appreciate her desire to improve as a provider and her willingness to get better. Recently she took care of a very ill patient which assuredly was uncomfortable for her to see, but she worked through the challenge and helped the patient get the care he needed. Thanks Mary, I really love and care about you!
by Dr. Matt Percy I am the PCP for a patient, whose husband sees Mary Patterson for her care. During a recent visit the patient was raving to me about the excellent care that Mary provided to her husband. She was particularly touched that last summer while her husband was in the hospital Mary called each day to check in on him. It was clear that Mary had made a big impact on the wife as she was still talking about it months later. This is just one of many examples I’ve heard over the years of Mary’s excellent care. Thanks for going above and beyond for our patients Mary! Thank you Mary for all you do!
Nominated by: Wynette Jackson I have never had a Boss that worked so hard for each of her workers to make sure we have everything we need to succeed in every aspect of our job and life. She has always given her hand out when you need help, a shoulder to cry on just when you need to let it out, ears that intently listen to your problems and tries to work with you to find multiple solutions. She is truly a Jack of all trades and a Master of Everything! I know that her wild nursing family keeps her on her toes but she keeps our intentions true and kind, souls light with laughter, and bellies full lol We love her and appreciate her so much! Thank you for being our Boss Lady of the Crazies!!! Lol
Nominated by: Jacqueline Chavez Amanda has been our mom, boss, best friend, therapist, etc. She is the ray of sunshine we needed here in Glenwood. No matter how stressed or busy she is she always has time to talk. She knows exactly what to say and do when we are at our breaking points. I have never had a boss who deeply treats me like a valuable employee and takes their time to hear me out. If there are any conflicts around the clinic, she deals with them right away. Amanda is super hard working, to where I have to ask her if she’s mentally okay sometimes. Don’t even get me started on office parties. She will go above and beyond for the clinic’s birthdays, holiday parties, baby showers EVERYTHING. I am so thankful for her; she knows I love her so very much.
P.S: She is killing it at COVID vaccine clinics!!
Nominated by: Kelly Ketzenbarger From day one Amanda has given her entire being to making Mountain Family Glenwood the best it can be. She has kept a smile on her face (and the faces of everyone else) despite fights in the parking lot, a dead guy on the front porch, lots of drunk people, neighbors’ houses blowing up, forest fires, snowstorms, a financial turn-around, and, as we all know…COVID. I can’t think of anyone else that could have gotten us through these last 2 MAJOR challenges better than Amanda. She did and has done everything in her power to keep us safe, secure, sane (debatable), and, actually happy.
Amanda has had to respond to numerous (god only knows how many) patient challenges from complaints of strangulation and broken necks to breaking covid vaccine needles in people’s arms. And, yet, Amanda has the integrity, compassion, grace, and some kind of Harry Potter magic to turn bad into good.
And what can I say about Amanda’s MAAAADDD party planning skills???!!! She is always looking for ways to bring light and joy to the workplace. She is absolutely 100% invested in making our jobs FUN! To quote Dale Carnegie, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” She incites,,,no, not violence, but laughter. You can hear laughter in the halls of Glenwood every single day. Amanda has created an environment of hard work and hard fun – an environment that brings out the best in people and, consequently, the best patient care.
Are we perfect in Glenwood? Heck no! But I truly feel that everything we do, we do out of love and, really, how can you go wrong with that? I credit Amanda for this. In a sense, she is the goddess of love …ah, hold on, I may be taking this a bit far…😊
One last thing, Amanda has this keen insight into people’s strengths (another Harry Potter wizardly skill) which she is able to bring out and utilize to the benefit of Mountain Family and, more importantly, to the individual. She has faith in people even when people don’t have faith in themselves (I am just one example).
Thank you, Amanda, for being you.
Nominated by: Wilber Mendez Amanda is amazing at managing all the productive chaos. She is calm, cool, and collected and thoughtful. I appreciate her organization of the entire clinic (except her desk). I enjoy coming to work every day knowing that my boss supports and appreciates me. Amanda without a doubt deserves this award and every recognition that comes with being AMAZING every single day.
Now that COVID-19 vaccines are available for anyone 18 and older, you can re-focus on dental care for the whole family. Mountain Family has provided dental care through tele-dentistry since the beginning of the pandemic last March, and we are happy to announce that we are now offering full-service in-clinic dental care at our locations in Basalt, Glenwood Springs, Avon, Edwards, and Rifle.
Our team of dentists and hygienists have had first-hand experience in delivering care to our patients during a pandemic. We follow all precautions related to COVID, and naturally everyone wears masks. Our focus is on preventative care and check-ups to fillings, extractions, and dentures. We can also address more serious issues like gum disease and tooth loss.
One of our patients, Maria came in for a routine examination to our Basalt center and was seen by Dr. Connor Rivers and one of our hygienists, Osiris. Dr. Rivers suggested that she have four fillings done, and she was able to easily make an appointment for follow up. Also, on the same day she was able to have a full teeth cleaning. She was grateful that our team was so thorough and caring.
Our team, including four dentists and five hygienists, stands by ready to assist you. To make a dental appointment or to receive urgent care, please call Mountain Family at 970-945-2840.
If you wish to make a gift to support our work, please do so here.
Working together, we have gotten through this last year, now bringing healthy smiles back to our patients’ faces.
By Ross Brooks, CEO, patient, Mountain Family Health Centers
Today more than a third of the 21,000 patients served at Mountain Family Health Centers have no health insurance. That’s more than 7,500 human beings in Garfield, Eagle, and/or Pitkin Counties without the insurance to cover their medical, behavioral, and/or dental healthcare needs.
This sobering statistic comes more than a decade after the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, and seven years after Colorado launched its health insurance marketplace, called Connect for Health Colorado, and expanded Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of Coloradans in 2014.
And yet more than 7,500 of our neighbors, friends, and family members remain without health insurance in our communities. According to the Commonwealth Fund, the number of uninsured has risen to a staggering 30 million people nationwide, with another 40 million people under-insured across America. The drivers of the uninsured are varied, but the most common recurring themes locally are lack of affordable choices in our health insurance marketplace, lack of understanding how to qualify for health insurance subsidies, and lack of insurance eligibility for some immigrant families or families that make too much income to qualify for insurance subsidies.
National hope: The recent passage of the American Rescue Plan Act offers sweeping improvements to health insurance for Americans nationwide, including several provisions that should help reduce the uninsured rate nationwide, including zero-premium plans for people earning up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level ($19,140 for an individual, $39,300 for a family of four) and capping costs for people with incomes above 400 percent of poverty ($51,040 for an individual, $104,800 for a family of four) at 8.5 percent of income.
State hope: Our state legislators representing Western Colorado have been working tirelessly on bi-partisan strategies to bring health insurance and care within reach of all Coloradans. Senator Bob Rankin and Representative Julie McCluskie helped pass reinsurance legislation to control health insurance costs in Western Colorado. And this legislative session, Senator Kerry Donovan and Representative Dylan Roberts have introduced legislation called the “Colorado Option Bill,” which Mountain Family Health Centers supports in the name of helping more of our 7,500+ uninsured patients access affordable insurance and care.
Local hope: We’re grateful to our community hospitals, counties, partners, and funders for their support of the uninsured across Garfield, Eagle, and Pitkin Counties. We’re also heartened by the work of the Valley Health Alliance, which this past year partnered with Rocky Mountain Health Plans to drive competition and rate reductions in the local individual insurance marketplace, helping hundreds of previously uninsured patients afford health insurance. And we’re interested in the partnership between Garfield County and Peak Health Alliance aiming to bring coverage and care within reach for more county residents.
At Mountain Family Health Centers, we continue to improve our services and pricing to best meet the needs of the uninsured in our communities. Earlier this year, we expanded our sliding fee scale providing discounted medical, dental, and behavioral health services to cover patients up to 400% of the federal poverty level. This means that uninsured individuals making up to $51,040/year or an uninsured family of four making up to $104,800/year can receive discounted medical, dental, and behavioral health care at Mountain Family Health Centers.
While we’re encouraged by the national, state, and local efforts to reduce the rate of the uninsured, our work is far from done. We can do better on behalf of the 7,500+ remaining uninsured in our communities. At Mountain Family, we’ll continue to support local, state, and national efforts that bring affordable health insurance coverage and care into reach for every member of our community.
To make an appointment at Mountain Family, visit us online at www.mountainfamily.org or call us at 970-945-2840.
Starting a career in healthcare? Mountain Family Health Centers will be starting MA training with the National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement (please tag NIMAA) starting September 2021. Total program costs is under $7000. To learn more, visit www.nimaa.org. Applications close July 17th.
by Dr. Kent Petrie When Diane Purse joined our provider staff at Eagle Care Clinic (now Mountain Family) in 2004, our care of children took a “quantum leap.” Her outstanding clinical skills were evident from the start. I have always considered her the best “pediatrician” in our area. When she asks me for advice, she already knows the answer and simply needs my “blessing” on her plan. Families recognized this immediately and her practice quickly filled with patients ranging from challenging newborns and children with chronic medical problems to acute care emergencies and sassy teenagers. Every day Diane is faced with incredibly challenging medical and social problems in our pediatric patients. She handles them all with great skill, patience and a calm and reassuring manner. It is no surprise that she has developed such a devoted following of patients and parents who will miss her in retirement.
I call Diane the “Queen of Collaboration.” She has worked with nurses in our local emergency rooms, urgent care centers and inpatient ward to upgrade their skills in the care of critically ill children. She has been an important link between our clinic and the pediatric hospitalist and neonatal nurse practitioner programs at our local hospitals, as well as Public Health programs like the Nurse Family Partnership, building bridges of communication and care. She is highly respected by and is on a first name basis with numerous consultants at Children’s Hospital in Denver and has developed the “Best Referral List in the World” which she will graciously leave behind for her colleagues to use! Diane’s skills were recognized by the state of Colorado in 2008 when she received the prestigious Nightingale Luminary Award, our state’s highest nursing honor. In my nominating letter I wrote, “I think I’ll contact my friends at the University of Colorado Medical School and arrange for them to present Diane with an honorary medical degree. Then, after she is selected for the Nightingale Award in 2008, I’ll nominate her for physician of the year in 2009!”
Diane took her pediatric skills “on the road” in 2014 and 2015, accompanying me on medical missions to Honduras. In remote villages she cruised through 50+ patient days with great enthusiasm, demonstrating the best of her Spanish language skills and cultural sensitivity. She has a true heart for mission work whether in Eagle County or Central America.
Diane has always been generous in taking time to share her knowledge with her medical assistants and nursing students that spend time in our clinic. She is a perfect role model for life-long learning. Through the years she has launched dozens of our staff to further their education to become Registered Nurses and Physicians Assistants. This will truly be Diane’s legacy. She can retire with the assurance that she has left her indelible mark on the future of medicine, inspiring the next generation of caregivers. We will truly miss Diane in retirement but send her on her way with gratitude and a heartfelt “Vaya con Dios!”
by Matt Percy, MD
I am grateful for Diane as an advocate for the kids who may need it the most. She has worked extremely hard over the past several years to set up local outreach from expert developmental specialists in Denver. This is a great benefit to our patients and their families who otherwise might face years long waits and the expenses/difficulties involved with travel to Denver. It will almost certainly lead to earlier access to critical treatment and therapy and these early interventions can make a world of difference in these children’s’ lives. Thanks so much for this and everything else you have done for our patients and community over the years Diane!
by Claire Graff, PA-C
When I was a new provider, I spent a day with Diane in Edwards. Sure, she taught me some pediatric pearls and showed me some great resources. But what stuck with me that day and always will, is Diane’s presence in the room with families. She has a way of setting people at ease, even while the case is formidable, or the news is serious. She makes the family feel that she is on their team and helps parents know exactly how they can help their child. She takes the time to demonstrate important skills, to be playful at the same time as straightforward with the child. With a calm voice and an overtly caring manner, she casts a spell over any exam room. These are skills that the rest of us can only strive to learn and a humanity that we can all recognize as a gift to her patients and colleagues. Diane has given that gift for decades, the value in that is immeasurable.
by Carol Conger
Diane Purse has been a champion for children’s health and an unwavering advocate for the most vulnerable patients in Eagle County for decades. She has made an immeasurable investment in our community’s future, a contribution whose impact will persists long after she retires. She celebrates the laughter and the crying, the milestones and the challenges of her growing children and their families. She demonstrates tireless commitment to finding every resource available, while flushing out experts and specialists to jump on board with her to miraculously put together a plan of care that is truly extraordinary. Her breadth of care embraces mental health, physical health, emotional health, and dental health for each small child and teenager that walks into her exam room. We will miss Diane terribly; her impact will linger.
by Debbie Burns
Pediatric nurse practitioner- colleague, friend and champion for the care of children. Diane has been a guiding light for the of the pediatric population of Eagle county for over 15 years… she started the Reach Out and Read program at our clinic and pioneered and promoted Children’s hospital collaboration for autism spectrum disorder evaluation in the Vail Valley. She has been an active participant and voice for the Rotary club, Early Child Find and Head Start… Back in the day , I have seen her driving to many patients homes to hand deliver an oxygen tank or bili- blanket that needed to be delivered that very night in order to assure safe patient care. She has dressed up to the delight of the the pediatric population for many a Halloween throughout the years and I think the one that best mirrors who she is was when she dressed up as Princess Diana… Diane Purse we have been so lucky to have our very own Princess Diana with such a huge humanitarian heart right here at Mountain Family Health Centers. You have changed the care of the most vulnerable and you will be missed but never forgotten or replaced… enjoy your next adventure… Love, Debbie Burns (one of the original four musketeers)
This past fall, most national experts predicted a cold and dark winter for the United States as COVID-19 cases and deaths grew precipitously. Unfortunately, the expert predictions were mainly correct, as national COVID cases reached their peak on January 8, 2021, with 315,179 positive COVID-19 cases in a single day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In the state of Colorado, COVID cases peaked between the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holidays, with Mountain Family Health Centers’ service area (Western Colorado’s Eagle, Garfield, and Pitkin Counties) showing similar concerning trends. Between December 2020 and January 2021, Garfield, Eagle, and Pitkin Counties moved into “level orange” on the state’s COVID dial dashboard, and Pitkin County skyrocketed into “level red” for a few concerning weeks in January 2021 with the state’s highest COVID incidence rates.
The shorter days, waning sun, and cold dark winter were upon us.
And then came rays of light in the global pandemic immediately following the winter solstice in late 2020. Hope was on the way in the form of COVID vaccines.
Our hospital and county partners in Eagle, Garfield, and Pitkin Counties were the first to receive the COVID vaccines in late December 2020 and began heroically, and efficiently, vaccinating healthcare workers across the three counties. The vast majority of Mountain Family Health Centers’ staff were able to be vaccinated by one of our hospital and/or county public health partners. We are eternally grateful to Valley View Hospital, Vail Health, Aspen Valley Hospital, Grand River Health, and the public health departments of Eagle, Pitkin, and Garfield Counties for vaccinating MFHC’s employees.
After meeting with Governor Polis and Colorado Community Health Center (CHCs) CEOs in early 2021, we were able to secure a direct allotment of COVID vaccine to CHCs statewide. That ensured vulnerable Coloradans with lower incomes, racial or ethnic health disparities, and other healthcare access barriers would be able to be vaccinated.
On January 20, 2021, Mountain Family hosted our first COVID vaccine clinic in Rifle, followed the next day by a second vaccine clinic in Glenwood Springs, and the following week in Basalt, focused on vaccinating vulnerable, high-risk individuals age 70 or older. I had the honor of working the parking lot vaccination clinic that week, and the smiles, joy, and gratitude behind the masks were palpable. Some quotes from vaccinated patients:
“Thank you for vaccinating me and my husband. We haven’t been able to see our grandchildren in more than a year. I’m getting vaccinated so I can hug my grandchildren in person again.”
“Estoy ayudando a mi madre a vacunarse hoy para poder celebrar muchos más cumpleaños con ella.”
“What do I owe you? Nothing, it’s free? Wow, thank you for providing this community service so effectively and compassionately.”
As of 3/1/21, Mountain Family has been able to provide more than 2,000 vaccines to our community members, administering 1,577 first vaccine doses and 431 second doses of COVID vaccine. Nearly 900 vaccines have been given in Glenwood Springs, 640 have been administered in Basalt, and 470 have been given in Rifle. Of MFHC vaccinated patients reporting race and ethnicity, 41% identify as Hispanic and/or Latinx.
Coupled with local hospital and public health efforts, MFHC’s COVID vaccination efforts appear to be working to reduce COVID incidence. Garfield County has improved to “level blue” on the state’s COVID dial dashboard, with weekly COVID positivity down to 3.3%. Both Pitkin and Eagle Counties have improved to “level yellow” on the state dashboard, with COVID positivity rates at 4.7% and 4.9% respectively.
Mountain Family will continue to provide COVID vaccine to community members based on the state’s vaccine guidance via weekly clinics hosted in Basalt, Glenwood Springs, and/or Rifle. For the week of March 1, 2021, we’re vaccinating patients under the state’s “Phase 1B.2,” which includes Coloradans ages 65 or older, educators, and childcare workers. For the week starting March 8, 2021, we expect to move into vaccinating “Phase 1B.3,” which includes Coloradans ages 60 and older, frontline essential workers in grocery and agriculture services, and Coloradans ages 16-59 with two or more high-risk conditions.
If you’re a current MFHC patient, we will call you to schedule your vaccine appointment once the state has opened the vaccine phase for which you are eligible. If you’re not an MFHC patient and are interested in being vaccinated by MFHC, please complete our vaccine interest form online, which can be found here. Mountain Family will contact you once the state has opened the vaccine phase for which you are eligible.
To make appointments for medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare at Mountain Family, please call us at 970-945-2840.
If you would like more information on giving or would like to make a donation, please link here.
“I would like to nominate Noreen for the Exemplary Provider award. Her assessments of patients are thorough, thoughtful and professional. I just recently had a patient go through a very, very difficult medication change for bipolar disorder with a lot of terrible side effects, lethargy, confusion. Noreen walked beside this patient, calling them, checking in, scheduling additional time to meet, communicating with me, the patient. I just spoke with that patient today, and they are doing amazingly well. I attribute this to Noreen’s exemplary care, work ethic, brilliance, experience, knowledge and care. Thanks Noreen! -Barb Corcoran, LCSW
“I would like to nominate Noreen for the Exemplary Care Award for her care of a complicated ADHD patient that I have been working with for the last several years. She has worked with him on a full understanding of how several of his medical conditions affect his mood symptoms and has been able to view him as a whole person, helping him treat his conditions with less medication over time, and now with also Dr. Schreiner’s help he is no longer taking medication. Thank you for your compassionate care Noreen.” -Anneliese Heckert, DO
“I would like to nominate Lucas Wagner, an important team member in IT, for the Mariposa award. Lucas consistently goes the extra mile to ensure our staff at MFHC is taken care of with their technology problems. For the past few weeks, Lucas has been pulling extra time because we are short 1 helpdesk person. He consistently works 50 to 60 hours a week to make sure we provide the right services to our customers in a timely fashion. Lucas also spends lots of his own free time in the evening and week-ends developing tools to make our support easier in IT. He has developed and documented several new tools to help our staff work more efficiently remotely and has trained the IT team on the use of these tools. Lucas is a great asset to the IT Team and MFHC – I am glad he is part of our team.” Fred Fredrick, IT Director
“One of the first things that I came to know in Lucas was his incredible positive attitude and his desire to serve MFHC. I’ve never asked Lucas a question and had the answer be “no” – if he doesn’t have an immediate “yes”, he has a promise to look into it and find a way to make it work. This can do spirit really hit me recently when the Glenwood Springs clinic front desk raised an issue they were having to him and identified a potential solution. Lucas listened to the issue the team was having, their desired solution, and found a way to make it work , within the next few hours – all while working with the equipment and supplies we already had. In the midst of the current challenges, the creativity and commitment that Lucas continues to demonstrate in his role as IT support is a great reminder that every person at MFHC is an integral part of providing world-class care to our patients.” Marija Weeden, Director of Operations
“Lucas has grown so much since he arrived here. He spends many hours in is off time studying and learning new tricks and developing new tools and scripts to help the department to better help our users.
He is eager to jump into any issue to help our users to be operational in minimal time. He is willing to share his knowledge with anyone and is a real asset to our department and the entire organization. He is one hard working guy whose efforts are very much appreciated.” Jim Jones