Aurora Health Alliance (AHA) offers an inclusive convening table where health and community leaders can come together to discuss and develop solutions to health access issues in their community: inadequate primary care capacity, limited access to specialty care, inequitable distribution of health resources, and fragmented approaches to solutions. We provide a practical, innovative, and open approach to collaboration, and we not only react to, but also tries to anticipate, the needs in the community.
Aurora Health Alliance is celebrating 10 years of increasing access, expanding coverage, and building collaboration!
Early 2009 - The parishioners of St. Theresa’s Church were concerned about access to healthcare in NW Aurora and began to hold neighborhood meetings to discuss the problem.
November 2009 – St. Theresa’s hosted a community meeting to discuss healthcare access in Aurora – over 150 people attended. Together Colorado and STRIDE (then called MCPN) helped organize the event.
The group identified 3 guiding principles: 1) the healthcare system in Aurora can meet the needs of all residents; 2) it will take all of us working together to succeed; and 3) the diversity of Aurora is a strength and all with aligned interests are welcome.
January 2010 – As a result of the community meeting, the all-volunteer Aurora Health Access Task Force was formed and the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved (now called the Center for Health Progress) received a grant to help support AHA.
A community survey was conducted to identify health access priorities for AHA to address. The highest priorities identified were: 1) high numbers uninsured/underinsured, 2) inadequate primary care capacity, 3) limited integration, care coordination, and access to specialty care, and 4) inequitable distribution of healthcare resources.
AHAccess Task Force received a small grant to expand health insurance coverage, especially among Aurora’s immigrant and refugee communities. They worked with Aurora’s ethnic restaurants to provide community education about health insurance enrollment through table tents, post cards, and coloring placemats. This kind of outreach - with informal, trusted community leaders was a very effective way to reach their targeted families.
AHA volunteers conduct a “Canvassing and Congregation” survey of 161 families in NW Aurora.
63% said they avoided getting medical care because of cost.
31% had difficulty getting a primary care appointment within a month for a non-urgent need.
Working with the Colorado Children’s Healthcare Access Program (CCHAP) AHA produced a list of Pediatric Medical Homes serving Aurora.
June 2012 - Centers for Medicare and Medicaid awarded a 3-year $4.2 million grant to Metro Community Provider Network (now STRIDE) to implement the “Bridges to Care” program at the University of Colorado Hospital.
AHA, along with Aurora Mental Health and Together Colorado were key community partners.
The goal of the grant was to reduce emergency room visits and unnecessary hospitalizations.
The program served over 600 patients, and among 225 program graduates, the number of ED visits to UCHospital decreased 49 percent, while the number of hospitalizations fell 55 percent, and that resulted in savings of nearly $8 million in charges.
The 1st Aurora Kids Convening was held January of 2013. The Colorado School of Public Health, Colorado Children’s Health Access Program, and Children’s Hospital Colorado partnered with AHA to organize the event. One of the major problems identified was lack of health insurance.
Data showed that the proportion of uninsured children in North Aurora (21.4%) was two times higher than Colorado statewide (10.1%), and stakeholders estimated that 20% of Aurora’s youth were uninsurable due to lack of documentation.
AHA later took on several projects related to health insurance and documentation, including a report titled Private Health Insurance Options for Undocumented People.
AHA received a 3-year operating grant from The Colorado Health Foundation to hire an Executive Director, formalize a governance structure, and develop a sustainability plan.
July 2013 - AHA’s Founding Board and officers were selected, representing many who are still engaged today: Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Aurora Public Schools, Aurora Mental Health Center, Children’s Hospital, Colorado Access, Arapahoe County Early Childhood Council, MCPN (now STRIDE), and Tri-County Health Department.
Dec 2013 - AHA produced its first e-newsletter.
AHA began working with and supporting Primary Care Progress, a dedicated group of students (and some faculty members), and the Fields Foundation to explore the feasibility creating a free student-run clinic in Aurora. In July of 2014, 740 students across the Anschutz campus signed a petition to support such a clinic, and the DAWN Clinic opened in March 2015!
March 2014 – AHA hired its first Executive Director – Denise Denton
October 2014 – An Oral Health Convening was held at the Martin Luther King Library to identify oral health needs and resources in Aurora, and 22 organizations participated.
December 2014 – The Senior Circle was formed, led by partners at InnovAge and the Colorado Gerontological Society!
June 2015 – The first Aurora Senior Forum was held in the community room of St. Theresa’s Church, with 76 participants and 14 exhibitors.
AHA’s Adult Access Work Group voted to become the Access to Specialty Care Task Force, to focus on a chronic and worsening problem.
AHA’s Board revised the mission statement “to collaboratively improve access to care and create a healthier Aurora,” adding, “with a focus on our most vulnerable and underserved residents.”
AHA’s Kids Interest Group worked with the Piton Foundation to produce a report titled North Aurora Immigrant and Refugee Demographic Profile.
The Senior Circle produced the Guide to Affordable Oral Health Services for Seniors.
AHA Board surveyed Colorado’s 18 other health alliances, considered various funding options, and adopted this sustainability strategy: 1) a majority of AHA’s operating funds will come from supporting organizations through annual Affiliations, 2) the Board believes reliance of this source of funding will validate AHA’s value to the partners and the Aurora community; it will allow AHA to remain independent and responsive to community needs as they arise, 3) a goal of raising $100,000 through Affiliations was set.
Working with Tri-County Health Department and Piton Foundation, AHA launched a community-wide outreach to promote Earned Income Tax Credits. The project was presented as an example of effective community outreach and education during Annual Colorado Public Health Conference.
The AHA Access to Specialty Care Task Force conducted a needs assessment among members to determine which specialty care referrals were most challenging to secure for Medicaid clients, and the results were: urology, orthopedics, dermatology, neurology, and rheumatology.
AHA launched the community-wide education project Know Where to Go, to explain difference between urgent care clinics and free-standing emergency rooms.
Thanks to start-up funding from DentaQuest, AHA launched Aurora Smiles to improve access to oral health services in Aurora. Partners include CU School of Dental Medicine, Children’s Hospital, Tri-County Health Department, MCPN, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and others. Mayor Hogan issued a proclamation making February 2017 Aurora Smiles Month. Working with community partners, the Aurora Smiles Team provided free dental screenings and fluoride varnish to over 100 children in Aurora.
The Social Determinants of Health Task Force hosted several meetings focused on families living in motels along Colfax Avenue. Working with community partners, the group delivered letters and information about mold and bed bug reduction to motels along Colfax. Inspired by this, the Latino Research & Policy Center secured funding to study how indoor environmental allergens affect the health of families in Aurora.
During the 2017 July Quarterly Community Meeting, AHA partnered with Kaiser Permante Care Equity Project to host a play on food insecurity at the Vintage Theater.
Working with Doctors Care and RubiconMD, AHA conducted a demonstration project to show what the positive impact of e-consults with specialty care physicians can be on improving access to primary care. The project was highlighted in an article in the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians April magazine.
AHA hosted a community-wide workshop called Nowhere to Go, highlighting the plight of vulnerable seniors stranded in hospital emergency rooms. AHA provided much of the groundwork for a 3-part series on Channel 9 about the issue statewide.
AHA provided education, information, and networking opportunities through 27 Interest Group gatherings focused on Kids Health, Senior Resources, Access to Specialty Care, Coverage Expansion, and Social Determinants of Health.
June 2018 - the Board voted to change the Aurora Health Access changed its name to Aurora Health Alliance.