Ken Davis, PA-C, is executive director of the Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership, the network of community and safety net organizations, health care providers and government agencies in Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties.
NCCHP is a nonprofit that works with local organizations to ensure residents have access to programs and services they need to be their healthiest self. It supports efforts to identify gaps in service, and then works to create community-wide efficiencies and reduce duplication, collaborating with health and wellness partners, collecting and leveraging regional data to support decision making, and advancing community-driven solutions.
The Ascent: You are a community leader in the Accountable Health Community Model. How does that align with NCCHP’s goals?
Davis : First and foremost, after working with underserved populations as a physician assistant and now serving in a community leader role representing the Health Partnership, I’m on the front lines, and I see how broken and fragmented our system is and how that impacts the individual’s ability to achieve health and wellness. I’m convinced our greatest hope for improved health happens through partnerships. That’s the greatest strength of the AHCM, in my mind. It moves us to work in greater collaboration between all sectors in a community.
The Ascent: How does screening for social determinants of health as part of the AHCM align with that vision?
Davis : We acutely understand that an individual’s health outcomes are at most 20 percent attributable to clinical care, and the remaining influences on health outcomes rely on the environment in which we live, genetics and the behaviors that help us to thrive. Screening strengthens the linkage between clinical and community supports. These screenings will also help us collect data and identify the most common social health needs for the various communities we serve so we can tailor our approach.
For example, at our last AHCM Advisory Committee meeting, we talked about food insecurity and how it’s been identified as an issue among multiple partners sitting at the table—and that started some juices flowing around addressing it. We’ve continued to share emails and we’ve agreed to reach out to Hunger Free Colorado to go after a grant to help us better screen for this. I see great energy and synergy developing around that issue in the near term.
The Ascent: What are the next steps regarding screening for social determinants of health?
Davis : We are identifying clinical champions for piloting the AHCM screening tool for social determinants of health. We are very excited to host the regional AHCM meeting in Craig, Colo. on May 9, and we look forward to the next steps and deeper partnerships that arise from that meeting. Ultimately, I see the Health Partnership helping to support community-wide transformation, using a model that shapes the entire community fabric in ways that make it easier for all residents to live a healthier and happier life.