Health Partnership, with new director, helps fill health care gaps for local residents
Locals know how easy it is to become overwhelmed with health concerns, health insurance or substance use issues, but sometimes, residents don’t know where to start to find help. That’s where nonprofit The Health Partnership works to help fill the gaps.
Residents in Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties who need help navigating health services, finding transportation to and from medical appointments, securing financial aid for affordable housing or looking for home health care can turn to the organization, which is based in Steamboat Springs.
Anyone who needs help for themselves or loved ones in overcoming a substance use disorder can reach out to the partnership. Residents who have questions about health insurance options, need help enrolling in an insurance plan or need information on Medicaid can contact the local partnership.
The Health Partnership has evolved through the years to help plug the holes in the health care system serving regional residents. Its mission is to “foster equitable access to health and well-being resources so our community can thrive.” A key part of the organization is care coordinators who assist hundreds of people each year.
After Stephanie Monahan, the organization’s previous executive director, left the The Health Partnership in early June to return to Alaska, the nonprofit recently hired Brittney Wilburn, who moved to the Yampa Valley a year ago from Boulder with her husband, three children and pets.
Wilburn worked as a registered nurse and nursing manager for many years before moving into consulting work as a health care design strategist for the past two years. She said she pursued The Health Partnership’s director role because she missed being part of a team.
“I love the safety net space. It actually has felt like coming home,” said Wilburn, who earned a master’s degree in public policy and management from the Muskie School of Public Service in Maine. “It’s a space where a lot of good work can be done through collaboration, innovation and teamwork.”
Wilburn’s background in nursing is apparent through her personality of compassion, intelligence, thoughtfulness and energy. Yet her bachelor’s degree in anthropology also comes in handy with ethnographic research to better understand people and human systems. She said her goal is to support people by giving them tools for making meaningful change.
Just a few weeks into her new role, Wilburn has already set goals for growth through the next year, including growing the recovery support program, strengthening the Well-Being Consortium in collaboration with community partners to address health equity in long-lasting tangible ways and growing the care coordination work by ensuring a more diverse community knows about the resources.
Wilburn summarized The Health Partnership’s five key areas of service, including:
• Care coordination: Staff members connect community members with resources at no fee.
“For example, we recently had a community member walk in who had just had her gas turned off. She was distraught and beside herself. One of our care coordinators reassured her and worked with Atmos (Energy) to get her gas turned back on,” Wilburn said.
• Health equity coordinator and regional health connector: Employees work to address social determinants of health, such as housing, food insecurity and adequate transportation.
“One of our current projects is a collaboration with the Yampa Valley Housing Authority to tackle the language barrier our Spanish-speaking residents face when applying for affordable housing. We will be translating documents into Spanish so the application will be accessible to more people in our community,” said Wilburn, who also is fluent in Spanish.
• Recovery support: Staff work through jails, the Bridge Program and other community partners to connect individuals to treatment programs and support groups. In 2020, 100 clients were connected to recovery resources.
“Last week we had a client, still struggling with active addiction, who was motivated to start treatment. She reached out for help, and one of our peer recovery specialists coordinated an intake appointment and set this client up for detox at a facility in Summit County and coordinated transportation,” Wilburn said.
• Yampa Valley Well-Being Consortium: A regionwide alliance of community service organizations, health care agencies and government entities are working together to actively implement strategies to make a difference on health outcomes in the region.
• Health insurance system navigation: Staff help residents navigate the complex and often frustrating health insurance system so that residents have an easier time signing up for health insurance plans through Connect for Health Colorado.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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