To our community,
The last year brought the Colorado Health Institute's second decade to a close. As CHI marks its 20th anniversary, we reflect on our past impact and our future goals.
Against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, a changing climate, and a behavioral health crisis, our challenges sometimes seem insurmountable. Yet CHI is making a difference through our research, insight, and expertise. We are advancing evidence-based health policy, providing communities with the data they need to improve health equity, and partnering to improve health outcomes.
We see evidence of our success in stories like these:
- Local and state public health organizations mitigated inequities in testing and vaccine distribution by using our analysis of the disparate impact of COVID-19 at the neighborhood level.
- More than 300 primary care practices added capacity to deliver vaccinations through our administration of Colorado’s primary care vaccination program.
- County commissioners were able to plan and access new programs and projects by using funding maps developed by CHI.
- A nonprofit federally qualified health center used data from a CHI needs assessment to apply for and open a new school-based health center in Fort Morgan.
- Mothers in the perinatal period are being routinely screened and referred for behavioral health services through an evaluation tool CHI developed with partner health systems.
- Regional public health agencies continue to respond collaboratively to the pandemic and develop programs targeting behavioral health, climate change, racial disparities in health outcomes, and other critical public health issues thanks to our facilitation of the Metro Denver Partnership for Health.
- CHI’s partners were able to set priorities, make decisions, evaluate programs, perform needs assessments, write grants, and inform their advocacy work using data from 2021 Colorado Health Access Survey. The survey offered insight into ongoing health trends and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color, essential workers, and others.
We are proud of the work we have done to advance health in Colorado, and we are grateful to the partners and supporters who have made our work possible.
Moving Colorado Forward in 2021
In the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, CHI focused on responding to its impacts, addressing the social determinants of health and driving health equity work across the state. Highlights include:
Integrating Systems of Care
- CHI’s assessment of Colorado’s school-based health centers identified opportunities to improve access to care in rural and underserved urban regions of Colorado.
- Our analysis of Colorado’s veteran communities identified opportunities to improve health and access to care for veterans who are eligible but not enrolled for services through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- CHI is working with the Metro Denver Partnership for Health on an interoperable social health information exchange (S-HIE) ecosystem to connect and strengthen coordination among health care, human services, and community groups to provide more customized, family-centered care for people in need.
- Through collaboration with the Office of eHealth Innovation and the eHealth Commission, CHI helped to update the Colorado Health IT Roadmap, which will lead the state toward more equitable, affordable, and accessible health care for all Coloradans.
- Two new reports examined inequities in mental health care and avenues to mitigate those disparities: Stigma and Systemic Barriers and Resilience and Protective Factors.
- For the state’s Office of Behavioral Health, CHI evaluated co-responder programs that pair law enforcement with behavioral health professionals to better respond to mental health crises.
- CHI worked with two Colorado health systems to develop workflows to ensure that every new mother is screened for behavioral health issues.
Climate and Health
- CHI worked with Clear Creek County to train county staff and residents on flood preparedness.
- Our coverage of Heat Waves and Homelessness brought attention to the impacts of extreme heat on vulnerable populations.
- CHI’s Fire Years, Not Seasons analysis explored drought patterns and wildfire policies in Colorado.
- Climate Change Forces Local Leaders to Brace for Flooding dealt with the health impacts of flooding and tips for staying safe.
Taking Stock: 2021 Colorado Health Access Survey
The 2021 Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) quantified the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic and assessed other health trends across the state. The findings came to life in our report, Navigating Uncharted Waters: The Pandemic, Health, Coverage, and Care in Colorado. In 2021, CHAS data also informed this work:
- A report about access and use of oral health care for the Delta Dental Foundation of Colorado.
- A blog post about the health needs of veterans: Ten Hut: Military Service Members and Veterans Have Unique Health Needs.
CHAS data and resources are available on CHI’s website for anyone to use. They include downloadable graphics, regional fact sheets, and the survey questionnaire. CHAS data can help organizations, researchers, and others who are interested in health and health access answer questions about specific populations, issues, or regions. CHI’s team is available to field information requests and respond to questions as needed.
Addressing an Ongoing Pandemic
In 2021, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic shifted from masking and social distance guidance to vaccine distribution, health equity, and the distribution of recovery funds.
- As the administrator of Colorado’s COVID-19 Primary Care Vaccination Program, CHI helped distribute $9,359,193 in initial payments to more than 300 primary care providers to expand access to vaccines in communities across the state.
- Our Colorado Vaccine Equity Maps tracked the percentage of the population in each census tract that had been vaccinated.
- CHI used Colorado Health Observation Regional Data Service (CHORDS) data to show the disparate impact of COVID-19 on metro Denver neighborhoods and provided that interactive analysis in English and Spanish.
- We created the American Rescue Plan Act Financial Map to track $9.7 billion in financial stimulus coming into Colorado and help decision-makers work together to amplify the effects of this historic investment.
- We used CHORDS data to quantify how much health care Coloradans missed during the pandemic.
- On behalf of the Metro Denver Partnership for Health, CHI published guidance to promote equity in vaccine distribution and launched an immunization ambassador program with community-based organizations.
- We wrote a series of blogs addressing everything from the ethics of vaccine booster shots and adjusting to a long view of COVID-19 to the harms of anti-Asian racism and why women are the key to economic recovery.