CEO Update 2-24-20

I want to start out this week with a very positive story. Earlier this week, SHS received an award from the Colorado Rural Health Center iCare program. Another example of just how far this organization has come and demonstrates our continued focus on Quality. Below is a summary Karen and Lisa put together to explain what this award represents:
Dear Tony,
The Quality Department is proud to provide an update on a Colorado Rural Health Center program, iCare that Southwest Health has been participating with since 2011. Almost the complete 10 years of the program.
The iCare program has been a part of our process with the goals to 1. Improve communications in transitions in care. 2. Improve the clinical process and systems to reduce readmissions, particularly for heart failure, pneumonia, and diabetes patients, and 3. To Maintain low readmission rates.
Southwest Health set individual goals related to these three goals relevant to our hospital and clinic and has been committed to these measures with process improvement and data submission.
During the recent conference with iCare, Southwest Health was presented with achievement of being the “Most Improved Organization” with a special plaque indicating going “Above and Beyond”. The Primary Care clinic had the most improved HbA1c Testing with a 12.2 percentage point improvement! Mancos Valley Clinic had the most improved controlling HBP, a 21 point difference putting the clinic at 77.6%!
Average readmission rate since February of 2018 is 2.67%. 100% data submission for the hospital and 97% in all 3 of your clinics.
I was proud to present to this conference our sustainability plan which will be the Patient Family Advisory Council.
Southwest Health has demonstrated great lengths in the commitment for quality!

Thanks very much to Karen and Lisa for their leadership in promoting quality healthcare at SHS. It’s always great for people outside the organization to recognize what we already know, that Southwest Health System is a very high-quality provider of healthcare services.

In January Southwest Health System was approached by Southwest Health Alliance and Peak Health about the establishment of and participation in a local Health purchasing alliance. At that time, we were told they needed to have a decision by the end of January as to whether or not we would participate. At that time, we were not able to develop a proposal and where informed by Southwest Health Alliance on February 2nd, that they assumed we did not want to participate and we would not be a preferred provider in that network and as such local residents would be incentivized to receive care out of the area.
Subsequent to that communication SHS received a call from Mayor Sheek about a proposed meeting with community members, Southwest Health Alliance and Peak Health to further discuss the issue. At that point we agreed to participate in that meeting and it was held on February 10th. During the meeting it became clear that the members of community had an expectation that in order for this network to move forward, participation by Southwest Health System had to be a priority.
As such we were given until February 18th to develop a proposal for participation in the Peak Network and on the 18th Rick Shrader and myself met with Claire Brockbank, representing Peak Health and Monique DiGiorgio of Southwest Health Alliance in Durango. At that meeting we presented a proposal that offered a fair level of reimbursement and required that local providers be the Tier 1 providers for residents of Montezuma County and providers outside Montezuma County to be Tier 2 for services that can be provided by local providers. This would mean that there would be a significant incentive for patients to receive services locally versus traveling outside the area.
Southwest Health feels strongly that this approach not only serves to put this network in a better position to assure that the community receives high quality services at the lowest cost, thus contributing to the goal of the Network to lower the overall cost of insurance for residents of this area, but also serves to continue to build a strong local provider network that is so critical to the ongoing growth of this region.
At this point nothing has been finalized and discussions continue. Peak was receptive to our proposal but questioned the ability to be able to manage such an arrangement. Our position remains the same, in that our participation is contingent on preferred status for Montezuma County providers. Regardless of the outcome of the Peak discussions, we will continue to work with our partners at Western Healthcare Alliance and Community Care Alliance to develop a local network to address the need to reduce the cost of healthcare for the residents of Montezuma County.

As part of my on-going discussion on the “Leading for Change, A HUMANISTIC APPROACH FOR PATIENT, FAMILY AND STAFF ENGAGEMENT”, I am going to discuss Employee Engagement.
As you know results from our Employee Engagement survey last year indicated we had a major opportunity in the area. A subsequent Pulse Survey conducted last fall indicated improvement but still much opportunity. So why is this so important and how does it affect the overall success of SHS.
Research shows that for every 10% increase in RN engagement there is a decrease in MRSA by .057 cases per 10,000 bed days. A 1 standard deviation improvement in engagement results in a reduction in Mortality rate by 2.4%. Also, not surprising, there is a strong correlation with turnover and absenteeism.
From an organization standpoint, improved employee engagement has significant advantages. A 2017 Gallup Study found that when the Employee Engagement of the top 25% organizations are compared to the bottom 25% organizations the Top 25% had:
• 22% increased profitability
• 50% fewer accidents
• 41% fewer quality issues
• Less Call-offs
• Less Turnover
• Increased Productivity
So how do we get there? Engagement happens with good Leadership. Gallup recommends the following:
• Hold Leaders Accountable
• Connect employee engagement with performance management
• Coach and mentor Managers
• Hire for Talent
There is really nothing to these suggestions I can argue with. I will be the first to admit we have a way to go to get us to the “TOP 25%” but is will continue to be our goal and we are and continuing to work toward that goal. Next week I will get into more of the specifics of how we get there.
On a related topic, we will be conducting another Employee Engagement Survey this Spring to see if we are continuing to make progress in this area. I look forward to seeing your comments and suggestions on how we continue to move this forward.

Thanks to everyone for your efforts in contributing to the growth and success this organization continues to experience. Our results over the past two years continue to be beyond anyone’s expectation.


Maya Angelou – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Albert Einstien’s Definition of Insanity: Continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Notice to Anthem Blue Cross / Blue Shield Patients

We have been experiencing issues with some patients being told by your insurance carrier that the healthcare providers at Southwest Medical Group are not in-network with their plan.  We are working to correct this miscommunication a quickly as possible.  Please reach call us at 970-565-8556 if you come across any of these issues and allow us to work with you and the team at Anthem BCBS to obtain authorization for care at SMG.

We value you as a patient and want to ensure that you continue to receive your care with us in the Southwest Health System.



2019 9Health Fair

For 2019, our theme is “Super 9Health Fair” because we’ve teamed up to provide health screenings and education for adults and children for the first time! Our fairs cover Montezuma and Dolores County at the following locations and dates:


Cortez – April 20th from 8am – 1pm @ MCHS

Dove Creek – April 6th

Mancos – April 13th

We offer comprehensive blood chemistry screenings. Talk to your doctor to learn about what screening is best for you.

9 health fair logo

Attend the fair:

We would love to have you participate, and there is no cost to you to have a booth in these events. Our ultimate goal is to promote health awareness and encourage individuals to assume greater responsibility for their own health. To do this, we collaborate with health care providers and volunteers to provide health screenings and interactive educational opportunities.

Registration for fair goers is online at or day-of the fair. We now accept credit cards online before the fair. You can select the blood chemistry screenings that you or your doctor would like to see.

We want to offer as many screenings as possible. If you are willing to provide one of these screenings, let us know!

We provide ALL of the following screenings at our 9Health Fairs:

  • Blood chemistry- $35 “This screening provides baseline information on cholesterol, blood glucose, liver, kidneys, thyroid, and more. These screenings can help you and your doctor monitor your health and prevent health issues from becoming emergencies. Information from this screening can also be used to complete your employers’ Health Risk Assessments (HRA). Based on the most current research, fasting is optional for the blood chemistry screening. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER and continue to take your regular medications. Persons with diabetes, should not fast.”
  • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)- $35: “The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recently recommended against routine screening of persons with a prostate with the PSA test.  Please speak to your healthcare provider if you have questions. PSA is a blood screening that measures a protein that is only produced by the prostate gland. Elevations of PSA may occur in persons with non-cancerous prostate diseases or prostate cancer. A normal PSA level does not entirely exclude the possibility of prostate cancer. A traditional manual screening, performed by a health care provider is strongly encouraged in conjunction with PSA screening.”
  • Hemoglobin A1C Diabetes Screening- $35: “A1C is a blood screening that measures your average blood sugar control for the past 2 to 3 months. The results give you a good idea of whether or not you are at risk for diabetes. For people with diabetes it indicates how well your diabetes treatment plan is working.”
  • Vitamin B12 Screening- $20: “This blood screening provides baseline Vitamin B12 levels, which play a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and the formation of red blood cells. ($20 value)”
  • Blood Count Screening- $25: “This screening gives you a general picture of your overall health by checking your white blood cells, hematocrit, hemoglobin levels, and blood-clotting abilities. Your body’s ability to fight infection, anemia, liver disease and certain cancers can be discovered with this screening.”
  • Vitamin D Screening- $50: “This screening is used to provide you with a baseline level of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a worldwide problem. Your body requires Vitamin D to absorb calcium and plays an important role in protecting your bone health. Many studies also suggest an association between low Vitamin D levels and an increased risk of certain types of cancers, nerve disease, immune disease and heart disease.”
  • Colon Cancer Screening Kit- $30: “This take-home/mail-in kit checks for human blood in the stool. Also, learn about preventing colorectal cancer, one of the most preventable cancers, and current recommendations for further screening, including who/when should get a colonoscopy.”
  • Testosterone Screening- $40: “Tests the level of testosterone in your body. This screening is for both men and women.”

Interested in Volunteering or having an Educational Booth?  Click the link to sign up!  

If you are interested in volunteering or  having an educational booth, please contact Meghan Higman, RN, BSN, director of education, for more details. Email 

Learn about our new partners, the Montelores Early Childhood Council at