Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Denver Health System and Community Health Plans

September 6, 2011 - Yesterday I was speaking to a Duke University Medical School classmate, and he was praising mile-high the accomplishments of the Denver Health System, the largest community health clinic in the nation.

These clinics, established about 10 years ago under President Bush and supported by President Obama, cover about 20% of Americans. Unfortunately, as Rodney Dangerfield might say, they get little respect or recognition among pundits and policy makers.

Still, they are a powerful force for care for those without a doctor, for the uninsured, Medicaid recipients, the poor, immigrants, and particularly for children.

The Denver clinic has 24 outlets, half of them school clinics, which provide immunization and pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease counseling, and routine pediatric and adolescent care. In addition, the Denver system has centers of eating disorders, minimally invasive surgery, complex fractures, occupational safety, and trauma. Its health professionals are dedicated to their work and have been awarded 24 black belts for meritorious achievements.

The system cares for 42% of Denver residents. Denver, a city with 2.5 million resident, is racially diverse with large Hispanic and Russian populations. The "mile-high" city takes great pride in its system, which serves its many citizens from the bottom-up, with top-down support from federal grants.

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