Thursday, March 15, 2018

Registration open for diabetes program sustainability conference

Sustaining Your Colorado ADA or AADE Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support Program
Friday, April 20, 2018 | 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO 80246

Register now! for this free event to learn ways to increase referrals and utilization for your DSMES program. This program will offer solutions for billing challenges, insight on unique marketing opportunities and ways to improve clinical outcomes of their participants.

Patient Navigator Training Collaborative: Supervisor Online Learning Series Begins March 27

You are invited to join the Patient Navigator Training Collaborative for a spring lunch and learn series via Zoom web conferencing.

This online series is designed for patient navigator supervisors, managers, program planners and administrators of patient navigator programs.

In each session, you will hear from subject matter experts, network with other supervisors/managers, and engage in interactive discussions.

March 27: Writing a Patient Navigator Job Description
April 17: Patient Navigator Role Clarity
May 22: Patient Navigator Team Integration

There is one registration for the entire series. Attendance at each session is encouraged, but not required.

Due to grant funding, this series is FREE to Colorado residents.

Please note: Although we are using the term “patient navigator,” this series applies to anyone supervising individuals performing navigation (care coordinators, case managers, community health workers, etc).

Learning Objectives
  • After participating in this series, individuals will be able to:
  • Recognize important components of patient navigator job descriptions
  • Better understand the relationship between competencies and job descriptions
  • Explain the role and responsibilities of patient navigators
  • Describe strategies to maximize role of the PN in your organization
  • Describe elements of successful PN team integration
  • Discuss how to identify program champions 
Click here to register

Monday, March 12, 2018

OEDIT launches 2018 Blueprint 2.0 Initiatives

Applications open March 15 - Rural Colorado communities encouraged to apply

Launched in 2015, Blueprint 2.0, leverages state partnerships and specialized resources to address the economic development goals of rural areas of Colorado. Blueprint 2.0 is a bottom-up effort to turn regional feedback on local economic needs into a statewide set of initiatives to advance the economies of rural communities.

In 2017, 17 communities across the state benefited from Blueprint 2.0 initiatives focused on place-making, branding, co-working, small business support, film production, outdoor recreation and tourism promotion. Past Blueprint 2.0 recipients have received technical assistance developing tourism assets, strategic business growth action plans and even a tiny home master plan.  

The following eight initiatives will be offered in 2018:

Communities interested in a Blueprint 2.0 initiative are encouraged to learn more and apply online at Applicants will be asked to demonstrate collaboration, strong local leadership and solid support for the initiative they chose to pursue.

Blueprint 2.0 applications are due on June 1, 2018 and winning communities will be announced in early July.

Questions about the program or application process should be directed to Danielle Lendriet at 303-929-1042 or or Meridith Marshall at 303-892-3850 or

Lowry health navigators: A bridge between patients and providers

For years, the Lowry Family Health Center in East Denver was an infirmary for the U.S. Air Force. When the Air Force left, it was sold to Denver Health on the condition that it always be used to provide health care.

Nearly four years ago, Denver Health remodeled the facility into a modern health care center, where approximately 20 health care providers see around 150 patients a day, primarily refugees and immigrants. The center includes a WIC clinic for mothers and infants, dental services, a modern laboratory, Pharmacy, enrollment services for Medicaid and thousands of books lining the clinic walls - every child seen at the clinic receives a free book donated by R.O.A.R. (Reach Out and Read) as well as other community supporters.

As Denver Health Center for Refugees Services, Lowry is a global village of culture, languages and needs. Patients speak as many as 52 different languages and many come from places where health care services are unavailable or unknown, where health care practices as common as brushing teeth or getting vaccines are not part of their culture, where being healthy means not being sick and seeing a doctor can be a sign of weakness. Some need basic health care, while others have more serious conditions.

Connecting them to care is a cadre of five health navigators, some themselves refugees. While they carry a daily caseload of patients, they say there is no “typical” day. They spend much of their time interpreting languages and cultural needs between patients and providers, but they also remind patients of upcoming appointments, explain medical procedures and expand their health literacy to help them lead healthier lives and manage their own health care. Sometimes they arrange transportation or show them how to use mass transit, refer patients to food and housing assistance, help them find child care or simply stand by them as they face their health care fears.

“People get lost and confused” said Menilik Asfaw, a health navigator from Ethiopia, where he earned a medical. “I work as a bridge between patients and providers.”

The patients he works with have already been through a lot, he says, fleeing the threats of their homeland and facing new challenges in the land they now call home. The most important thing health navigators can do, he says, is establish trust. Once they’ve established that trust, they can more easily talk to patients about their needs, guide them through the clinic’s health care services and establish a connection with the clinic’s providers. 

Asfaw recalls a refugee from Southeast Asia who he had tried to reach for two months, left dozens of voice mail messages about upcoming appointments, only to wonder why he didn’t show up. He contacted the case manager at the voluntary organization, who went to the patient’s home to find out if anything was wrong and brought the patient back to care. At the clinic, Menilik asked the patient why he had not responded, only to find out why he didn’t know how to operate the voice mail command on his mobile phone. He showed him how to use the phone, to make calls and how to retrieve voice mail messages and he went on to catch up on all his health care needs.

“You have to be patient and understanding, because some patients start slow, others fail and many have to start again to access health care,” he says. “One thing I can do is help.”

A passion for helping people is what brought Adrien Matadi to the Lowry Family Health Center as a patient navigator. He also had to flee to Ethiopia, where he received his law degree and did his internship at the African Union in the Legal Department. In danger of being hunted down and killed, he immigrated to the United States where he had to start over “at the bottom.” Having experienced both sides of life gave him a unique perspective on the unmet needs of refugees, including a peaceful and secure life.

Once in Denver, he dove into community outreach and social work to make sure “immigrants’ voices would be heard.” After seeing the need for health care in his community, he joined the clinic and received patient navigator training supported by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Like Asfaw, he carries a daily caseload of patient and provider interactions, from easy to difficult.

One of the more difficult but rewarding experiences he had was with a young mother from the Horn of Africa whose child had so many health issues; she didn’t know where to start. Matadi helped her navigate an examination in one location, followed by two medical procedures in different locations and safely back home in a day’s time - a Herculean effort for refugees who had never before seen a doctor. To ensure the family stayed healthy, he connected them to food and housing support.

“All these little contacts become cultural exchanges,” Matadi said. “We are just there to guide them to a good decision and to live a health, decent and peaceful life.”

That guidance, that cultural bridge between patient and provider is what makes patient navigators critical to the success of the Lowry Family Health Center, says Nurse Manager Cynthia Vais. She sees lack of knowledge, fear of health care, stigma of poverty and confusion of clients visiting her clinic every day. Patient navigators, she says, are seen as community leaders and trusted by patients and providers alike. The clinic runs better because of them.

“Because of them and the passionate providers we have, our clinic helps hundreds of people each day that would otherwise have nowhere to go,” said Vais, a 25-year+ veteran of nursing, who says managing Lowry is one of the best job she’s ever had. “It’s making my heart sing.”

By David Brendsel
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

CHF symposium call for proposals deadline March 14

Call for Proposals! Symposium Exchange Sessions

Do you have experience or insights around the health systems, policies, innovations and advocacy related to behavioral health? Consider presenting at the 2018 Colorado Health Symposium, Aug. 1-3 in Keystone, Colo.

The Colorado Health Foundation is soliciting proposals for the conference's afternoon exchange sessions, designed to engage and offer tangible information or resources that attendees can apply to their own work in creating a healthier and more equitable Colorado.

This year's Symposium, Achieving Equity in Behavioral Health, will focus on Colorado's behavioral health crisis. From a worsening opioid epidemic to pervasive issues with access to care, Coloradans are facing tough barriers that keep health out of reach. The Symposium will explore the complex ecosystem of behavioral health and the role that inequity plays from prevention to recovery.

Submit your exchange session proposal by March 14.

Questions? Contact

CHOP culinary training a success

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Cooking up Healthy Options with Plant's (CHOP's) continued partnership with the LiveWell School Food Initiative has led to a second successful year of culinary training. We were ecstatic to work with 65 child-care cooks, directors and community members. Chef Jessica and Fernando worked to empower every attendee while sharing information, answering questions and getting to know the people who feed children in Colorado. These amazing people spent seven hours learning knife skills, food safety, recipe reading, kitchen production and menu writing. The attendees worked throughout the morning learning seven new knife skills. The newly sliced ingredients were then combined to create a wonderful Powerhouse Sweet Potato Chili.

Each year CHOP works with a specific demographic area in Colorado, while in 2017 we focused on Greeley and Pueblo, 2018 brings focus to the Denver Metro area and Colorado Springs. If you feel that your county could benefit from our programming stay tuned. We will ask for demographic interest for 2019 starting in July.