High Plains Community Health Center Announces Appointment of New Chief Medical Officer

Release date: June 21, 2023
High Plains Community Health Center (High Plains) has announced the appointment of Dr. Claire Reed, MD, as the organization's new Chief Medical Officer (CMO). Dr. Reed succeeds Dr. Barbara Taylor, MD, who has served as Interim CMO since October 2022. Dr. Reed begins her new appointment with High Plains on Monday, August 7, 2023.

As Chief Medical Officer of Pueblo Community Health Center in Pueblo, CO, where she has served as CMO since 2018, Dr. Reed grew and stabilized that organization’s staff of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, while increasing access to healthcare among the region’s underserved patient communities. “My focus [in Lamar],” offers Dr. Reed, “will be to build on the great work already done at High Plains in chronic and acute-care services and lead the charge in growing the ranks of resident medical and behavioral health providers.”

In Pueblo, Dr. Reed also oversaw further growth of the center’s integrated behavioral health services, a program launched, as well, at High Plains in 2022. “A great number of primary care visits are actually triggered by a patient’s psychological problems,” says Dr. Reed. “Integrated care improves outcomes. Patients who receive a referral from a primary care provider to a mental health provider have a greater likelihood of following up on that referral if it’s colocated.”

Dr. Reed brings to High Plains more than 30 years of clinical and 15 years of healthcare leadership experience with nonprofit community health centers across the United States, including chief medical officer appointments at Mid
State Health Center in Plymouth, NH, Bridge Community Health Clinic in Wausau, WI, the Community HealthCare System in Onaga, KS, and most recently Pueblo Community Health Center.

As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), the mission and design of High Plains Community Health Center isto serve those who have limited access to healthcare, although all are welcome. High Plains offers medical, dental, and behavioral health services at sites in Lamar and Holly, CO, to patientsfrom all over Southeastern Colorado, including Prowers, Baca, Bent and Kiowa Counties. High Plains operates under a consumer Board of Directors governing structure and providesservices to all individuals, regardless of their ability to pay, offering a Sliding Fee Discount Scale based on patient income and family size.

High Plains Wins Prestigious Million Hearts Award

High Plains Community Health Center Holly Clinic has been recognized as a 2018 Million Hearts Hypertension Control Champion. The Million Hearts Hypertension Control Challenge is a competition to identify practices, clinicians, and health systems that have worked with their patients to achieve hypertension control rates of at least 80% through innovations in health information technology, patient communication, and health care team approaches. There were only 18 practices in the United States that qualified to receive this award in 2018.

The team members working at the Holly Clinic during the tracking period were: Tracee Nelson-Yarborough, FNP; Logan Petersen; Sheila Tefertiller, RN; Angelica Neugebauer; Sylvia Juarez; and Delaine Garcia. The Holly Clinic team is the first Nurse Practitioner led site to ever be recognized! This is quite an honor for Tracee Nelson-Yarborough, the Nurse Practitioner evaluated.

Over 75 million Americans have hypertension and almost half do not have the condition under control. We know from research that having a blood pressure of more than 140/90 greatly increases the risk of strokes or heart attacks. In the case of the Holly Clinic, 242 of their 286 patients originally diagnosed with high blood pressure had their blood pressure within acceptable limits, an 84% success rate. This success was achieved through use of effective medications, healthy lifestyle coaching and close contact from the health care team. The Holly Clinic also took advantage of quality improvement programs from the University of Colorado Denver, including Evidence Now Southwest and the State Innovation Model.

Local practice named as 'health care innovator' by Gov. Hickenlooper High Plains Community Health Center accepted into CO State Innovation Model

Denver - June 2018 - High Plains Community Health Center clinics that include: Holly Clinic, Wiley Clinic, Adult Health Center, Main Clinic, LCC Campus Clinic, and the Pediatric Office were accepted into  the Colorado State Innovation Model (SIM), a federally funded, governor's office
initiative that helps primary care providers deliver whole‐person care. The 6 locations in Prowers  County are the only locations to be accepted into the federally funded, governor's office initiative,  which runs through July 2019.

"SIM providers in these cohorts must focus on the entire patient, which means addressing mind, body and mental wellness," said Donna Lynne, Lieutenant Governor and Chief Operating Officer, who has many years of leadership experience in the health care sector. "That complete approach to health is what makes the SIM initiative is so valuable. Patients get the care they need when they need it, and providers learn how to succeed with new payment models. It's a great example of meaningful reform in our state."

Patients interviewed by SIM staff notice and appreciate the work done by practices. "It's powerful for me, as a patient, to land somewhere I feel well taken care of," said Mary Catherine Conger, a patient at Roaring Fork Family Practice, during a SIM podcast (https://bit.ly/2nzuieO).

Whole‐person care

Colorado was the only state (out of 11 selected for a SIM model test award) to focus on integrated behavioral and physical health care supported by public and private payers as its primary goal. The initiative helps providers progress along an integrated care path continuum that might start with referrals and could lead to co‐location of behavioral and physical health professionals in primary care settings. Integrated care improves patient outcomes, reduces health care costs and enhances provider morale. About 1,847 SIM providers in cohorts 1‐2 deliver care during 3,342,018 annual patient visits.

The efforts also benefit providers. "It's energizing to give the kind of care you envision instead of being frustrated every day," said Gary Knaus, MD, Roaring Fork Family Practice, a SIM cohort‐1 practice.
"Somewhere in your gut you feel like, 'God, I could do better.'"

SIM launched with 100 practice sites in 2016, added 155 practices in 2017 and will help about 25% of the state's primary care sites and four community mental health centers deliver whole‐person care.

Colorado will receive $65 million from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement this model for health care innovation, which is expected to save or avoid $126.6 million in health care costs for CMS with a 1.95 return on investment during its four‐year time frame.

SIM Website


Click here to read: How Innovative Teamwork Saved This Rural Health Center


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