This post was written by Jess Meyer, a former member of our team.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I feel I have been told that for as long as I can remember. When you’re not a morning person though, starting your day with a good breakfast is even tougher to accomplish. I’ve fought an internal battle over the past few years trying to master the morning person lifestyle so I can have enough time to start my day off right.
One of the best parts of my newly discovered morning time is having time to read the news. It makes me feel more informed and better prepared to make my way through the day. The headlines tell me that the health care system is constantly changing, but most of what I read is about national- and state-level changes. With my work and my personal interests rooted in communities, what I really want are stories about how small towns on the eastern plains are coping with the changes in coverage options, and how our mountain resort areas are ensuring they can provide access to care for low-income residents, high-income tourists, and everyone else that passes through. Which is why I’m so excited about our Health is Local project.
I’ve spent the last six months traveling our beautiful state with other CCMU staff, having a lot of early morning breakfasts in tiny cafes, and meeting with community leaders to hear about their experiences with health reform. These local narratives are essential in understanding the big picture impact of health reform in the state, and we’ve learned a lot already. In March, I met in Nucla with Lynn Borup, Executive Director at Tri County Health Network, to talk about the capacity of Montrose County’s health system to care for the newly enrolled Medicaid population. A few weeks later I was in Wray, and met with Vonnie Weaver, Director of Encore Life at a community tractor show. We spoke about her local efforts in Yuma County to better align the health system with their aging population. At the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Summit County, I met with Father Tema, Director of Mission Integration, who explained the hospital’s new focus on preventive medicine and wellness and their planning for a new payer mix in patients. And a week later I was sitting across from Jan Martin of the Colorado Springs City Council as she explained that health reform is a small part of bigger, collaborative changes to the health care system that were already underway in her community.
Yesterday, over a hearty breakfast, we shared the most recent findings from this project with attendees of our annual meeting. The headlines from each community are different, as each faces unique challenges and a unique set of resources; however, they all share a commitment to getting more Coloradans covered, to ensuring access to quality, affordable care, and to collaborating and innovating to improve their local health care system. We hope these and other stories from Colorado communities help to inform our statewide discussion on health reform.
Health is Local will continue into 2015, as we still have much to learn from local leaders. Whether it’s over breakfast or at some other point in your day, we hope you’ll take some time to read through our take on the early impacts of health reform in Colorado.