Aims to serve both Nederland and Gilpin County with affordable care
By Esmee Halsted
For more than 40 years, Gilpin County had a small health clinic serving mountain communities. For years the clinic was run locally until Mountain Family Health in Glenwood Springs took it over. In 2014 Mountain Family Health shut down their Black Hawk clinic eliminating the only primary healthcare in Gilpin County and neighboring towns. After Mountain Family Health closed, Gilpin was left without any health care options, and Nederland currently has one doctor with a limited practice.
Jeanne Nicholson, Gilpin local, took on the task of re-introducing primary care services to mountain populations. She found the change in leadership and eventual shut down alarming. “I was a little concerned when Mountain Family Health changed. The new leadership and oversight were on the other side of the Continental Divide. That worried me because I didn’t know if they would pay enough attention to the Black Hawk site. I heard that our Clinic in Black Hawk was going to close and I was horrified. It’s a huge loss for a community.”
Jeanne saw a need for health care in the Health Department’s Community Health Assessment. She noticed a large amount of uninsured and underinsured people in Gilpin County, indicating a lack of ability to pay for health insurance. She noted that transportation to get care adds another cost for families who already struggle to pay for health care. In the same report, Gilpin residents specified that a health care clinic is needed in Gilpin County.
Jeanne reached out to federally qualified community health centers in the Denver-Metro area. She got in touch with Clinica Family Health based in Lafayette with clinics across the Front Range. After filing for a grant and conducting a study, Clinica Family Health agreed to potentially create clinics in the greater mountain communities of Nederland and Gilpin County. While Clinica Family Health in the mountains is not official, folks leading the project will decide on September 30th, 2021.
Clinica Family Health aims to serve both Nederland and Gilpin County, but the time in each town and where the clinic will start is still unknown. The affordability of Clinica Family Health works for most people. They take Private Commercial Insurance, Medicaid/Medicare, and they provide a sliding scale for uninsured people. However, people with Kaiser Insurance have to go to Kaiser facilities for care.
While the future of Clinica Family Health is still unknown, a clinic would go a long way to help the community. With countless hours of driving and affordability issues, health care is too expensive for some mountain folks. Thanks to folks like Jeanne Nicholson, there is great potential to better our community’s health and well-being.