Winter 2016 Newsletter


Appreciating the Past –

Eyeing the Future 

As I sit at my desk, warming up with a cup of coffee and watching the snow fall outside my window, I take a moment to review our accomplishments over the last year and prepare for the next. Our team is developing a new strategic plan for 2016-2020. Creating long-term goals and crafting a 4-year plan is a big undertaking. But I know SWCAHEC can get it done—the proof is evident in our past successes:

• We created the Center of Excellence in Care Coordination.

• We developed a fiscal sponsor program—partnering with Blueprints of Hope.

• We completed a comprehensive Community Health Assessment for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

• We developed a formal Internship Program for undergraduate nursing and public health students.

• We strengthened our partnerships at the local, state and national levels.

I’ve said it before…our organization is small but mighty!

One of our over-arching goals is to be a leader, an “epi-center,” in our region for health related education and resources for students, health professionals, and community members. I recently spoke at the regional nurses’ professional organization about leadership. Initially, my thought was, what do I know about leadership? Do I have pearls of wisdom to share? After much thought, I realized that SWCAHEC is a leader for students, health professionals, and the community through the many programs and projects which we have to offer. As a leader, SWCAHEC advocates for vulnerable populations; inspires students to pursue health careers; and encourages ongoing education and lifelong learning.  As a leader in the nonprofit world, we must be bold in our decision making and solve problems with creativity, innovation, and tenacity. If we fail, we try, try again.

Thanks to funding from the Colorado AHEC Program in Denver, our team recently participated in a Training of Trainers for Cultural Competency and Diversity education. Our eyes were opened to the need for more inclusiveness in the way we think, speak, and act. We will now take on a leadership role, incorporate what we have learned, and share this view with other professionals and organizations across the Western Slope. If you would like to learn more or if you are interested in scheduling training, feel free to contact a member of my team at

Our past accomplishments give us the drive to look toward the future. Setting our strategic plan and goals allows us the chance to continue demonstrating our leadership in the healthcare community and the opportunity for SWCAHEC and the many organizations we are associated with to make a difference in our corner of the world!

As always, I welcome your comments, ideas and suggestions! Please contact me at 970-375-3243 or


CoECC HomePage

CoECC Continues to Engage Health Organizations 

CoECC Report

Members from the healthcare community have been involved and continue to discuss the latest news and trends on care coordination in southwest Colorado. Partners with the Center of Excellence in Care Coordination (CoECC) contribute their ideas and input surrounding the progress and accomplishments with collaborative care, inter-agency continuity, information exchange, and resource networking.

Representatives from Mercy Regional Medical Center, San Juan Basin Health Department, Southwest Workforce Center, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, La Plata County Senior Services, Southwest Center for Independence, and other organizations took part in the “bi-annual dialogue” late last year. The health reps talked about how each agency may contribute to the care of an individual patient to create an organized system of care without gaps or duplication.

CoECC Director Nora Flucke said the collective effort has demonstrated significant advancement by working with the local healthcare community. “For the past year and a half, more than 60 partner organizations have come together to build a health infrastructure for improved patient services and greater health system efficiency.” 

 The results from the collaboration show shifting utilization trends as well as cost savings across southwest Colorado.

Southwestern Colorado Area Health Education Center (SWCAHEC) was awarded a grant from The Colorado Health Foundation to design and implement the CoECC in 2014. The CoECC serves care coordinators across eight counties: Archuleta, Dolores, Hinsdale, La Plata, Montezuma, Ouray, San Juan, and San Miguel. 

Visit  for more information.


Southwestern Colorado Area Health Education Center (SWCAHEC) will host the 3rd Annual Health Careers Camp for area teens. 

Save the Date! The camp will be held June 7—10 on the campus of Fort Lewis College and is open to all southwest Colorado students going into 8th, 9th and 10th grade (2016 fall semester). Online registration will be available beginning March 1.  Click HERE to visit the Health Career Camp Page.

Adopt-A-Camper! Did you know the need for healthcare workers will continue to grow as we all near retirement? Help us build our future healthcare workforce by adopting a camper. Your contribution will help a student:

• attend a 3-day camp

• learn about health careers through hands-on activities

• meet professionals from a variety of health occupations

• experience shadow opportunities and service learning

• return to our rural communities as future healthcare professionals

• make new friends

Become a Sponsor!  

The Health Careers Camp receives significant financial support from the Colorado Area Health Education Center.    

Meanwhile, the Telluride Foundation continues to be a strong supporter. A recent Community Grant Award will fund scholarships for 8th-10th grade students from Ouray, San Miguel, and West Montrose Counties to attend the 2016 camp. Thank you to the Telluride Foundation for their Platinum Sponsorship.

Additionally, the camp will benefit from our two Silver Sponsors Integrity Health Plus and the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado.

Lend your financial support to make this a successful event for our campers. Sponsorship levels include:

• Platinum – $2500

• Gold – $1000

• Silver  – $500

• Bronze – $300

Consider investing in our future; your investment could help a local youth be introduced to the possibility of their future health career.  Sponsorship funds are used for:

• Room and board for students and chaperones

• Transportation for students for career shadowing and campus tour experiences

• Basic 1st aid training for chaperones and volunteers

• Supplies for the camp - office supplies, posters, 1st aid kits, and hands-on activity kits

• Insurance and other miscellaneous costs

Contact Executive Director Kathleen McInnis to discuss your contribution:


SWCAHEC Hires Recent FLC Graduate

Lucero Joins Health Education Team

The Southwestern Colorado Area Health Education Center (SWCAHEC) is pleased to announce Danielle Lucero as the organization’s new project coordinator. Lucero will be responsible for the coordination of a new program aimed at improving health information literacy among teens.

Lucero is a recent graduate of Fort Lewis College. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in public health and studied abroad in Costa Rica. While attending FLC, Lucero contributed to health education on campus through involvement in the Wellness Peer Advisory Council, Club del Centro and the “Decolonize your Diet” movement. Lucero is a member of the Isleta Pueblo tribe located just south of Albuquerque, NM. Lucero is passionate about creating a culturally competent workforce and someday hopes to bridge Indigenous healing methods with Western medical practices.

The National AHEC Organization (NAO) announced the year-long literacy project as a learning collaborative to be funded among six AHEC centers nation-wide. The literacy project will address a young person’s ability to find, interpret and use reliable sources of health information which can have a direct impact on their health.

The project will target youth from communities like Durango, Cortez and Pagosa as well as teens from more rural southwest Colorado communities and from local tribes.


Grant Award Funds

Teen Health Literacy Learning Project

SWCAHEC among Six Awardees Nationwide

The Southwestern Colorado Area Health Education Center (SWCAHEC) is among six centers from across the country to receive a grant for participation in a teen health information literacy project.  Fort Lewis College (FLC) graduate and SWCAHEC intern, Danielle Lucero has been hired to coordinate the project locally. 

The National  AHEC Organization (NAO) announced the year-long learning collaborative to be funded among the six centers nation-wide from the National Library of Medicine (NLM). The project will address a young person’s ability to find, interpret and use reliable sources of health information which can have a direct impact on an individual's health. To improve health outcomes across one’s life-span, the project will aim to teach literacy skills to diverse populations in order to encourage life-long, healthy personal habits.

SWCAHEC Executive Director Kathleen McInnis explained that SWCAHEC will partner with the Centennial AHEC of Greeley to educate youth in Colorado. The project is designed to test previously developed teen health information literacy models in various contextual situations. “The partnership with Centennial AHEC will allow us to implement the literacy models for teens across the state. Locally, here in southwest Colorado, the project will target youth from our populated communities like Durango, Cortez and Pagosa as well as teens from more rural communities and from our local tribes.” 

Other awardees from across the country include: Boston AHEC, Brooklyn-Queens-Long Island AHEC, Eastern Connecticut AHEC, and the Montana AHEC. Robert Trachtenberg, CEO of the NAO said the cross-country project is intended to achieve a learning collaborative structure, “We are confident that all our awardees will share best practices and implementation experiences with each other and with future sites. We are doing as much as we can to encourage collective efforts at achieving our common goals.”

The National AHEC Organization (NAO) represents a network of more than 300 program offices and centers that serve over 85% of United States counties.  The NAO mission is to help its members enhance access to quality healthcare through advocacy, education, and research.