Rural health network fundraiser honors providers
In a county of over 15,000 people, Grand County’s health care providers are greatly outnumbered by their patients but still find ways to provide top-notch service and support the community.
Local providers and health care workers were celebrated at the seventh annual Bulls, Boots and BBQ fundraiser for the Grand County Rural Health Network on Thursday at the B Lazy 2 Ranch in Fraser.
“I hope every single person there took away something new, whether they learned about new services or advocacy that we do, or connected with a video or people in the crowd,” said Jen Fanning, executive director of the rural health network. “I hope they took something away about this organization we have in our community that lifts up our voices and that honors the people who work here and live here, that supports our people.”
The event also named this year’s recipients of the Excellence in Health Care Services award — Katie Hornbaker, a certified registered nurse anesthesiologist at Middle Park Health, and Sue Johnson, a licensed social worker and behavioral health navigator at Mind Springs Health.
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Grand County is a Health Provider Shortage Area, meaning there are too few primary care, dental and mental health providers and services for our geographic area and population.
- 1 primary care physician per 1,500 residents
- 1 dentist per every 3,830 residents
- 1 mental health provider per 550 residents
Information from the Grand County Rural Health Network
Hornbaker and Johnson expressed how honored they felt to be the recipients of the award amid a field of deserving colleagues and dedicated providers.
“Frankly, I’m still shocked,” Hornbaker said. “It’s rare that I’m short on words, but I am because this means a lot to me that I was awarded this.”
There were six nominees this year, and Fanning said Hornbaker and Johnson received the award because of their work within the community and their volunteerism.
“All of our health care providers and health workers go above and beyond in their day job… so if we went on that alone, it’d be impossible to make a decision,” Fanning said. “So they really look at community involvement in health or anything else, because we know the health of a community comes from participation.”
Fanning added that the fundraiser plays an important part in connecting health care providers and the community, which helps foster support and boost services.
“The community fundraisers are really important because foundations and other government entities who give us money really want to see the community buy-in, literally, and this is the biggest way to do it,” Fanning said.
Johnson echoed the sentiment, saying she hoped people would leave the event with a better understanding of the work the rural health network does and its direct impact on the community.
She highlighted the organization’s recent accomplishments, including representing Grand County on the state behavioral health task force and creating the Behavioral Health Navigator Program.
“Have you ever tried to drink from a firehose? Similar concept to trying to do rural health care,” Johnson said. “They do (strategic planning) so intentionally to try to get everyone that’s affected involved. … They lift up voices that otherwise wouldn’t be heard.”
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