Please join me in celebrating Dr. Chris Tonozzi’s 22 years of providing high-quality, compassionate, primary care to our patients and communities. Dr. Tonozzi’s passion for providing care to the community he’s from is largely responsible for why Mountain Family exists in Western Colorado. Fresh out of medical school and residency, Chris started working to expand the community health center model to Western Colorado, which in the mid-1990s, had no community health center presence serving the Western part of our state. Chris began to ethically influence other community health center systems and leaders to expand care westward, and in 1998-1999, he was a leading part of the team that successfully launched Mountain Family Health Center’s first Western Slope community health center in Glenwood Springs.
The Glenwood Springs clinic started small, with several staff, and humble roots. Today, after more than two decades of care and leadership from Dr. Tonozzi, MFHC’s Glenwood Springs clinic has blossomed into MFHC’s largest integrated medical, behavioral, and dental healthcare home amongst MFHC’s now 10 clinic sites in Western Colorado. In the past 18 months, MFHC Glenwood Springs has provided more than 32,000 patient visits to more than 7,200 unique patients from our community.
Chris has helped mentor, train, and inspire the next generation of community health center providers and leaders, many of whom serve at Mountain Family or other community health centers statewide. Current MFHC co-Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matt Percy rotated with Dr. Tonozzi early in his medical training, and cites Chris as one of the main people who influenced him to join the Mountain Family care team. Chris inspired me as well, nine years ago, to move westward from Denver and to join the talented team of Mountain Family care givers and leaders to expand access to affordable care for all.
I have deep gratitude for all that Dr. Tonozzi has given to our patients and community. Some of my favorite memories include:
- Leading MFHC’s early adoption of electronic health records to modernize antiquated paper patient charts and to improve the quality of care for patients. While it’s rare to hear any healthcare provider espouse love for an electronic health record (and every EHR is a continuous work in progress), Chris’s commitment to using technology to improve care is unparalleled. Chris served as MFHC’s Health Information Technology (HIT) Director for many years and helped position MFHC as a health technology leader.
- Being MFHC’s champion for vasectomy and family planning services for patients. Chris has provided more than 2,300 vasectomies for patients over more than two decades, which, as Chris highlights, means that more than 2,300 men are free from worry, and more than 2,300 women are free from birth control. The marketing highlight of Chris’s vasectomy services, is undoubtedly, MFHC’s 2018 “Shoot But Don’t Score” vasectomy campaign (see below photo).
- Providing high-quality, compassionate care to tens of thousands of patients over 22 years. Dr. Tonozzi is my primary care provider, and I can attest to his gentle bedside manner, commitment to co-authoring health improvement plans in partnership with patients, and his deft ability to communicate complex medical issues with a human, caring touch.
Starting this week, Chris will be completing his time as a primary care provider at Mountain Family and moving to PRN (Latin for “as needed”) status to provide vasectomy services for MFHC patients, occasional PRN coverage in MFHC clinics, and to focus on his vasectomy business, Pro Vasectomy. You’re also likely to run into him on the trail, on the river, or on a bike as he shifts to spend more time with his recently retired wife in the beautiful Colorado mountains.
Chris is not one to seek the limelight (he told MFHC staff “No Speeches!” at his celebratory lunch several weeks ago, see attached photo), so I’ll share on behalf of the entire Mountain Family, thank you Chris for who you are, the extraordinary care you have provided our community, and for the lives you have helped to live healthier.