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The Return of the Regional Health Connectors

The Return of the Regional Health Connectors

Written by Ashley Hill, CCAHEC Development Director

Central Colorado Area Health Education Center (CCAHEC) is once again pleased to be a recipient of the Regional Health Connector (RHC) program for

Colorado Health Statistic Region (HSR) 17, covering Park, Clear Creek, and Gilpin counties, and HSR 4, encompassing El Paso and Teller counties. CCAHEC is excited to announce the addition of a third RHC region, HSR 16, which includes Boulder and Broomfield counties.

From 2016 through 2019, the Regional Health Connector program was a joint effort between Colorado Foundation for Public Health and the Environment (CFPHE) and Colorado Health Institute (CHI). Funding was received through two practice transformation initiatives in Colorado, which include EvidenceNOW Southwest (ENSW) and the Colorado State Innovation Model (SIM). As a host organization, CCAHEC was hosting two of the twenty-one RHCs that were located throughout the state. All these efforts were part of the overarching coordinating partnership called the Colorado Health Extension System. When funding ended in 2019, it was a devastating blow to the communities served by the RHC program. Luckily, we are pleased to announce the return of the RHC program which began January 2020.

The RHC program is critical for achieving successful interventions for social determinants of health through partnerships between primary care and community health organizations.

Funded by CU Anschutz Department of Family Medicine, the RHCs will continue to serve as a crucial point of connection between primary care practices, other health care providers, public health, and community resources, while engaging primary care in local community health planning and improvement efforts, and aligning public health and community resources in an effort to transform and improve primary care. The Regional Health Connector program is critical for achieving successful interventions for social determinants of health through partnerships between primary care and community health organizations and will help to further build on the cross-sector partnerships and synergies that have formed as a key outcome of SIM.

RHCs are housed locally to ensure local connection. RHCs work with local partners, public health, human services and local organizations in order to review existing initiatives and data, align local priorities, identify opportunities for coordination, develop implementation plans and find additional resources, as needed. Although the local relationships and priorities identified in each region will still drive the work of each RHC, there are six common goals that all RHCs must adhere to: 1) address local priorities within program target areas; 2) support practice transformation efforts; 3) support local regional accountable entities (RAEs) and local hospital transformation efforts; 4) address social determinants of health; 5) connect practices to community activities (clinical-community linkages); 6) connect and work with practice facilitators to coordinate Innovation Support Project (ISP) efforts.

Each RHC has until June 30, 2020 to identify one local community project to execute while adhering to the goals listed above. We look forward to the continued success of the RHC program and can’t wait to see what the future brings for this connector workforce. For more information about the RHC workforce, please visit http://www.regionalhealthconnectors.org/.

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