This month, Southwest Colorado Mental Health Center celebrates 50 years as a local nonprofit agency.
The center has spent the last 50 years continually
expanding its mission and services to meet the
ever-changing needs of five counties in Southwest Colorado. The staff and board work diligently to make a meaningful
difference in the lives of those who live in our communities; and over the last year, they have been redesigning our
organization so that we can make an even greater difference.
On April 1, Southwest
Colorado Mental Health Center, Inc. took on a new name - Axis Health System. The name attempts to describe the
magnitude of our current agency transformation from a mental-health and substance-use
disorder treatment provider to an integrated health-care system. The goal of Axis Health System is to evolve into a new
generation of health care. This transformation includes the effort to provide primary medical care, behavioral-health
treatment and personal wellness in a wholly integrated setting.
Our vision provides a more effective model of health care that takes into consideration the whole person, instead of
focusing on one piece of the person. This integrated model of health care includes a broader assessment that blends
traditional health care and
behavioral health care, while adding wellness and healthy lifestyle planning as an equally important part of improving
a person's quality of life. Specialized-care teams will provide prevention, intervention and treatment services in the
areas of primary-care medicine, behavioral-health treatment and physical/emotional wellness.
Axis Health System is currently providing integrated care in the Dove Creek Health Center, Southwest Memorial
Hospital's Primary Care practice in Cortez, the Durango High School-based Health Center, and Pediatric Partners in
Durango by providing behavioral-health professionals to work in those treatment settings. We also are involved in
collaborations to support expansion of our School Based Health integration at Florida Mesa Elementary School in Durango
and Southwest Open School in Cortez.
Recognizing the limitations of bringing behavioral health services to other's systems, we are transforming who we are
by becoming a fully integrated healthcare operation ourselves," reports Bern Heath, chief executive officer. A
cutting-edge initiative is the new integrated Cortez clinic, which will combine the services mentioned above in the
most integrated health-care setting to be developed in the state. We
expect to break ground in
midsummer. We hope to complete the facility and begin operation in early summer 2011.
Our ultimate goal is to eventually develop fully integrated health-care clinics across southwestern Colorado while
continuing to also have behavioral-health professionals working within other interested medical settings. This
transformation completely changes the face and practice of our organization. Axis Health System is poised to promote
more meaningful change by going where no health-care organization in Colorado has yet to venture.
For additional information on any of the Axis Health
System integrated health-care projects, call Pam Wise Romero, executive vice
president for Healthcare Services, at 335-2202.
Linda Lute, LAC, MAC, is the executive vice president of Clinical Operations at Axis Health System (formerly Southwest
Colorado Mental Health Center, Inc.)