The TCHN was created in 2009 and its mission is to improve the regional population's health outcomes by increasing access to healthcare and integrative health services at lower costs. TCHN has spent the last year planning and developing strategies to address regional health care issues, including developing goals for the organization and articulating the services and products it would provide. TCHN aims to become a leading rural health network, a leader in reshaping rural health and health care across the county. TCHN is committed to collaboration for the betterment of the region's health. "Collaboration is the future of health care delivery, especially in rural areas" said Steve Siegel, Executive Director of the Norwood Uncompahgre Medical Center "UMC is looking forward to sharing resources and leveraging organizational strengths to maximize the health of our region."
The Network members plan to address the limited human and financial resources and a duplication of efforts and services within the tri-county area (Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties). Collaboratively, the Network can create an organized and purpose-driven structure, where all members work toward coordinating and sharing resources and building a critical mass to support specialists and specialty services and programs. With a collaborative approach, funding can be pursued on a more significant level, which will have a direct impact on the communities served.
Additionally, the Network members are interested in adopting regional medical information sharing technology system. Although most of the members individually have been in discussion with Quality Health Network (QHN), a health information organization based in Grand Junction and recently highlighted in a The New Yorker magazine article by Atul Gawande, serving the Western Slope of Colorado, their efforts have been stalled due to lack of regional coordination, funding and/or infrastructure issues. QHN is a secured system designed to share patient clinical information between providers. This project would allow Network members to organize efforts and develop a coordinated plan to be able to interface electronic health records.
In 2009, the Telluride Foundation received a Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant for $67,868 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create the TCHN, comprised of health care providers and facilities within the counties of Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel: the Telluride Foundation's Local Healthcare Initiative; Montrose Memorial Hospital; Basin Medical Clinic, Naturita; Telluride Medical Center; Uncompahgre Medical Center, Norwood; Midwestern Colorado Mental Health Center.
The tri-county area is an officially designated "Health Professional Shortage Area". All of the Network Members are nonprofit organizations with unique designations; three of the participating clinics are classified as true "Frontier Clinics," and they serve remote Western Slope rural populations with no alternative health care services within a 100 mile radius and a population density of 4 people per square mile; the Uncompahgre Clinic is classified as a "Federally Qualified Health Center". Colorado and Telluride state healthcare experts refer to the Basin Medical Clinic as the most rural medical clinic in the state. Previous to the creation of TCHN, the Network members did not have a collaborative working relationship. Consequently, numerous gaps in coverage and scope of services existed. The Network members agreed to participate in a planning process to develop an integrated delivery structure, coordinate care utilizing existing services, and expand services to address unmet needs.
I am involved in many charities throughout the country and I am especially proud of my association with the Telluride Foundation. Telluride is unique for its unparalleled beauty and preserved historic western heritage as well as the strong sense of community experienced by residents and guests. The Telluride Foundation supports and enriches the people and organizations that represent this wonderful place.
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Founding Co-Chairman