2021: A Year of Transformation
Reflections on 2021
As changes swirl around our lives these days, so too have they been swirling around the Health District over the past year. Yet change has two sides—some are quite challenging, while it is a fortunate part of life that other changes make our lives better.
Last year, our staff again rose to the challenge of being part of the ever-changing community response to COVID. Early 2021 brought the promise of vaccines able to protect against COVID-caused severe illness and death. But ensuring rapid distribution and facilitating access for everyone was key. Our staff jumped in, creating new systems to help provide vaccinations, incorporating mobile clinics for harder-to-reach populations.
COVID continued in waves, requiring flexibility in our responses. A major challenge was connecting people to mental health and substance use services at a time when demand was significantly increasing, but supply was declining. Our Connections and Integrated Care teams both steadfastly tackled the need. And our improved version of healthinfosource.com helped staff and the public make good connections to care.
Even though our Dental Clinic continued strict pandemic safety precautions, they focused on helping people return to good oral health routines, and services grew in 2021. Our hardworking Larimer Health Connect staff helped clients untangle new rules, allowing people greater access than ever to affordable health insurance and care. And smokers found that there was never a better time or reason to quit using tobacco.
Our heroic staff continued their work to help keep people experiencing homelessness safe in our community by providing a place for COVID isolation/recovery and quarantine. Last year, they weathered two moves, closed when it looked like vaccinations would end the need for services, then re-opened at the end of 2021 as COVID surged again.
Reflections on Our History and the Promise Ahead
Looking ahead, an exciting transition for the Health District is the promise of new leadership! As I retire after 27 years as the Executive Director, we eagerly look forward to future achievements under the qualified leadership of Robert Williams, the new Executive Director.
Reflecting back, I see multitudes of people whose lives are healthier because of the work of the Health District. Things have truly changed since 1994—people now have many more opportunities to maintain and improve their health. The dedication of our staff, working persistently with other amazing community partners, has both catalyzed and created change—saving lives, turning lives around, and helping lives feel like worth living again. But the work is not done.
As I leave, I thank every person who has been involved in making our community healthier for the last three decades. This is not easy work, and it’s been even harder these past couple of years. But it’s some of the most important work one could ever do. Health is precious.
The potential of the future lies ahead, and it is largely what we make of it. From the bottom of my heart, may each of you—fare well.
|Our Services by the Numbers|
|6,954||Patient visits to our Family Dental Clinic (1,777 patients served)|
|494||People who received blood pressure checks|
|977||Quit Tobacco counseling sessions held (for 216 clients)|
|24,874||Client contacts for mental health or substance use help provided by Connections, CAYAC, and our Integrated Primary Care/Mental Health Program|
|1,703||Households that received help finding new, reduced-cost health insurance options form Larimer Health Connect|
|10,648||Total number of individuals who received dental or health care, or connections to care from Health District staff|
|76||Unhoused people who were provided COVID-19 isolation, recovery, or quarantine services in conjunction with our partner Homeward Alliance, January-May 2021|
|$840,288||Value of grants and donations received for dental and mental health services, health insurance enrollment support, community assessment, prescription assistance, quit tobacco services, and COVID-19 response|
|3,157||COVID-19 vaccinations given, about half provided in mobile clinics to harder-to-reach communities|
|Current Board of Directors|
The Health District is governed by a publicly elected board of directors.
Molly Gutilla, President
Julie Kunce Field, Vice President
Celeste Kling, Liason to PVH Board
Ann Yanagi, Secretary
Joseph W. Prows, M.D., Treasurer
Taking steps to quit tobacco
Results include better sleep
Hans Pearson is no stranger to addiction. Growing up around cigarette smokers, he took his first puff at 12 years old and was hooked. Addiction to other substances followed as Pearson grew into a young man.
Slowly and persistently he has worked to overcome a reliance on drugs, until all that was left was the habit of smoking those cigarettes that had been a constant companion for over two decades.
“Quitting smoking was the last step in my recovery; nicotine was my last vice to overcome.”
His health was also a growing concern. Overweight and a type 2 diabetic, the 40-year-old Loveland man had tried to quit smoking before, but it never stuck. Then at a community service event, Pearson met Rosi Davidson, tobacco treatment specialist for the Health District and a former smoker. He saw it as a sign.
“Rosi helped me set a future ‘quit date’ that I could look forward to and mentally prepare myself,” Pearson says. She also provided him with free nicotine patches which he started wearing while on his last pack of cigarettes, as well as mint nicotine lozenges and other aids.
Pearson became one of the 216 clients last year that the Quit Tobacco program helped to stop using nicotine over the course of 977 counseling sessions. He credits Davidson’s counseling and constant encouragement with reaching his goal to finally stop smoking. “She went out of her way to make sure I had all the tools. I felt very supported and it made me want to keep going.”
And he’s thrilled with the improvements in his health. He no longer suffers from sleep apnea or needs to use oxygen at night.
One mental trick that Davidson offered has come in handy whenever Pearson is tempted to light up: NOPE—Not one puff ever. “The thing about taking ‘one puff’ is that it leads to another and another,” Davidson says. “The best way to stay quit is to not have a cigarette. Nicotine replacement, free with the program, helps with the cravings and triggers.”
If you or someone you know wants help to quit tobacco, call 970-224-5209. Appointments are conveniently available by phone, online, or in person.
Family Dental Clinic urges return to routine care
Like most dental practices, the Health District’s Family Dental Clinic moved to emergency-only treatment during the height of the pandemic. When the clinic opened back up for routine dental appointments, it look longer for patients to return to their chairs than staff would have liked.
“The pandemic forced some people to put off dental work, but it’s extremely important to get back to routine oral care,” says Dr. Leith Rupp, lead dentist for the Family Dental Clinic.
Cavities and infections only continue to get worse and can become more of a health problem, for example. Not caring for the teeth and gums can spread inflammation to other parts of the body and cause—or exacerbate—other health issues. Also, without a healthy smile people can be self-conscious at job interviews and may hide their mouth from friends and loved ones.
“It is easier to address oral health problems when they are small and manageable versus when they become more serious. It is easier on your pocketbook with less time in the dental chair,” Rupp says.
The clinic, which has four dentists and is open 5 days a week, treats individuals who have no private dental insurance and meet income and other guidelines and accepts the Colorado Medicaid dental benefit.
In 2021, the Family Dental Clinic served 1,777 patients in 6,954 visits for everything from cleanings, fillings, and extractions to root canals, dentures, and oral surgery. Staff also made referrals to area specialists as needed.
Re-establishing good habits like brushing twice a day, flossing, and seeing a dentist for regular check-ups has several important benefits, Rupp explains. “Going regularly to the dentist helps you have a better experience overall. Routine cleanings can help prevent dental work. Exams catch small cavities which helps in the long term, plus they can address specific issues such as dry mouth or periodontal disease.”
Appointments are required for the clinic except in emergencies. Find out if you meet the eligibility guidelines by calling 970-416-5331.
Larimer Health Connect
Finding insurance that fits
Restoring vintage vehicles in his shop at America Speed and Custom is more than just a job for Sam Jepson—it’s his life’s passion. But finding affordable health insurance as a self-employed business owner became harder and harder.
The 61-year-old lives with chronic health conditions and lingering issues from a back injury. Medical expenses built up. Then he got sick with the COVID-19 virus. After recovering, he found that several of his older customers were staying safe at home and fewer cars were coming in for repairs.
So Jepson turned to Larimer Health Connect for guidance on affordable health insurance coverage and got a big surprise. Health Coverage Guide Trudy Herman reviewed his income and medical situation and discovered that Jepson qualified for the Health First Colorado Medicaid Buy-In Program, which charges a monthly premium based on your income.
Regular Medicaid provides health coverage to families with low-incomes, qualified pregnant women and children, and individuals living with a disability.
“Clients qualify for the buy-in program if they have a medical condition that affects them during the work day,” Herman explains. “It may be that their hours are lessened due to fatigue from a chronic condition or they can’t lift what they used to lift because of a back issue. The program allows them to have insurance and continue to work while managing their medical condition.”
This meant that Jepson didn’t have to close his business and stop doing what he loves just to have peace of mind if he got sick or injured. “I thought Medicaid was for people in wheelchairs,” Jepson says. “Health insurance just got so expensive for a self-employed person, and I never knew about this option.”
In addition, during the COVID-19 public health emergency, monthly premiums were waived for the program, allowing Jepson to save even more money.
The Larimer Health Connect team helped 2,285 individuals like Jepson find affordable health insurance coverage last year. There was also a need for prescription drug assistance, one of the services offered by Larimer Health Connect. In 2021, 82 people in our county who were struggling to pay for needed medications received help getting low-cost prescription drugs.
Contact Larimer Health Connect at 970-472-0444 or larimerhealthconnect.org.
Connections aids transition to new therapist
Sarah Gales was feeling dejected and a little bit desperate when her mental health therapist took an extended leave and she couldn’t find a replacement. Her situation was difficult because, in addition to intense emotional issues, the 44-year-old has a complex medical history that makes transportation challenging and has an insurance plan not accepted by many providers.
“It was so upsetting to get rejected for services that I desperately needed,” says Gales, who is blind and needs assistance with her walker. “What I really wanted was a therapist who could do telehealth or in-home appointments so I didn’t have to expend energy just to go to mental health therapy in addition to other medical appointments.”
Enter Connections, a mental health and substance use program that empowers and supports community members in navigating the network of behavioral health services in Larimer County. Gales worked with behavioral health provider Jen Head to find a therapist who was available, could treat her specific mental health issues, and took her insurance.
Head found two options and Gales chose SummitStone Health Partners’ Home program, which placed her with an experienced therapist who comes to Gales’ home for appointments. “The Home program is a great match for Sarah because it reduces barriers to services with her therapist and she can receive the emotional support she needs,” Head says.
Gales couldn’t believe her luck. “So far it’s a good fit, we meet in my home so I don’t need a caregiver to go with me to another appointment. It’s been working for all of us.”
Connections helped 6,048 individuals like Gales find answers, options, and support for their unique concerns and goals in 2021.
“Since Connections services are not tied to insurance billing and we have relationships with many providers in the community, we have the flexibility to advocate for clients to get the services they need, especially when some of their life circumstances impact their ability to do that on their own,” Head says.
For help with mental health or substance use, call Connections at 970-221-5551.
Our services are open to those who live within the Health District, including Fort Collins, Laporte, Wellington, Livermore, Red Feather Lakes, and Timnath. The Health District serves residents of ALL INCOMES, though some services are specifically for families who have low incomes and no health insurance. Most services have a fee, but sliding fees are available to make good health affordable for all.
Improving the health of our community requires steadfast partnerships centered on a commitment to helping others. It’s with gratitude that we recognize the individuals, businesses, foundations, and organizations that support our mission. Together in 2021, we touched the lives of more than 10,648 individuals by supporting their health needs. In addition to our ongoing programs, we also:
- Supported those experiencing homelessness who needed a safe place to isolate, quarantine, and recover from COVID-19
- Provided COVID-19 vaccinations to our community members
Business, Government, and Foundations
Caring for Colorado Foundation
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Connect for Health Colorado
Coronavirus Relief Fund
Del Corazon Family Fund
Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation
Fort Collins Lions Foundation
Larimer County Behavioral Health Services
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
State of Colorado Senior Dental Program
Ongoing Project Partners
Advocates for Recovery Colorado
Associates in Family Medicine
Banner Health Emergency Departments
The BIPOC Alliance
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Chilson Senior Center
City of Fort Collins
City of Loveland
Colorado 8th Judicial District
Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention
Colorado Dept. of Health Care Policy and Financing
Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment
Colorado Health Institute
Colorado Health Medical Group
Colorado Health Network
Colorado Opioid Synergy – Larimer & Weld (CO-SLAW)
Colorado School of Public Health
Colorado State University (CSU)
CSU Dept. of Health and Exercise Science
CSU Franklin A. Graybill Statistics and Data Science Laboratory Services
CSU Health Network
CSU Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center
CSU School of Social Work
Cultural Enrichment Center of Fort Collins
Eclectic of Northern Colorado
Estes Park Library
The Family Center/La Familia
Foothills Gateway, Inc.
Fort Collins Police Services
Fort Collins Police Services (Co-responder Program)
Fort Collins Rescue Mission
Fort Collins Senior Center
Front Range Clinic
Front Range Community College
Imagine Zero Coalition of Larimer County
Larimer County Dept. of Health and Environment
Larimer County Dept. of Human Services
Larimer County District Attorney’s Office
Larimer County Community Justice Alternatives
Larimer County Interagency Oversight Group
Larimer County Office on Aging
Larimer County Office of Emergency Management
Larimer County Sheriff’s Office
Loveland Community Life Center
Mental Health and Substance Use Alliance of Larimer County
North Colorado Health Alliance
North Range Behavioral Health
Northern Colorado Collaborative for Addiction and Recovery Support (NOCO-CAReS)
Northern Colorado Harm Reduction Alliance
Northern Colorado Health Network
The Otero Corporation
Partnership for Healthy Youth
Poudre River Public Library District
Poudre School District
Queen's Legacy Foundation
Rocky Mountain Health Plans
Salud Family Health and Dental Centers
Sharing the Care Campaign of Northern Colorado
Spirit of Joy Church
SummitStone Health Partners
Thompson School District
UCHealth Northern Colorado
UCHealth Aspen Club
UCHealth Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Retail and Outpatient Pharmacy Services
UCHealth Family Medicine Center
UCHealth Healthy Hearts Program
UCHealth Medical Group
UCHealth Mountain Crest Behavioral Health Center
UCHealth Palliative Care
United Way of Larimer County
University of Northern Colorado
Weld County Dept. of Public Health and Environment
Answers, options, and support for adult mental health and substance use.
425 W. Mulberry, #101 • 970-221-5551
Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Connections (CAYAC) Team
A service of the Connections program that focuses on answers, options, and support for youth and families. Early identification of areas of concern, assessment, and guidance for counseling, or other treatment of mental health and substance use for youth and families.
425 W. Mulberry, #112 • 970-221-3308
Community Impact Team
Organizes community efforts to make long-term, systemic changes that will significantly improve the health of the community, with a focus on mental health. • 970-224-5209
Family Dental Clinic
Dental services for adults and children.
202 Bristlecone • 970-416-5331
Your source for mental health and substance use resources and information in Larimer County.
Heart Health Promotion
Nurse screening and consultation for cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose. • 970-224-5209
Integrated Primary Care/Mental Health Program
Providing behavioral health care in safety net clinics.
Larimer Advance Care Planning Program
Free assistance and support to help people complete and share their advance care directives.
120 Bristlecone • 970-482-1909
Larimer Health Connect
Helping people find the best options for health insurance to meet their family’s health needs and budget; prescription assistance.
144 N. Mason, Unit 7 • 970-472-0444
Quit Tobacco Program
Support and resources to quit smoking, vaping, and/or chewing with the help of certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists.
120 Bristlecone • 970-224-5209
|2021 Revenues, total: $12,037,335|
|Property & Specific Ownership Taxes||71.6%|
|Grants & Partnerships||7.9%|
|2021 expenditures, total: $14,276,237|
|2021 expenditures, by program: $10,432,114|
|Integrated Mental Health, Substance Use, & Primary Care Services||9.8%|
|Heart Health Promotion & Quit Tobacco Program||7.3%|
|Grants, Partnerships, & Special Projects||15.8%|
|Assessment, Research, & Evaluation||2.3%|
|Health Care Access (Larimer Health Connect/Prescription Assistance, & Policy)||9.5%|