OURAY - An ambitious region-wide health care discussion hosted by CLUB 20 gets underway in Ouray next Thursday, March 1.
Held at the Ouray Community Center from 2-5 p.m., the by-invitation facilitated dialogue is one of 25 sessions to be held in communities large and small across the Western Slope over the coming months. In Ouray County, about 40 community members are expected to participate.
The meeting schedule, which is subject to change, currently calls for meetings in Silverton in April, Delta/Montrose sometime in June, and in Telluride in August.
“Basically, the goal is to grow the discussion around health care, open the dialogue, and enhance discussion,” said Bonnie Peterson, Executive Director of CLUB 20. “We would anticipate that as we have these meetings, we will find some differences in terms of community needs throughout the region, maybe differences between rural and more metropolitan areas.”
The ultimate intended outcome, Peterson said, is to inform and hone CLUB 20’s health care platform so as to give Western Colorado a strong, clear voice in decisions being made globally at the state or federal level, and to shape policy in a way that makes sense for the region.
“We are always concerned about one-size-fits-all edicts, when they don’t fit,” Peterson said.
CLUB 20, headquartered in Grand Junction, is an organization of counties, communities, tribes, businesses, individuals and associations across Western Colorado. The group, whose original mission was to represent the 20 Colorado counties west of the Continental Divide, has grown in scope to represent two other counties as well. It is organized for the purpose of “speaking with a single unified voice on issues of mutual concern.” Public education and political action are two of its priorities.
CLUB 20 shapes Western Slope policy on key issues originating within its standing committees, each with broad geographic representation. These committees include Agriculture, Business Affairs, Education & Workforce Development, Energy, Health Care, Public Lands & Natural Resources, Telecommunications, Tourism, Transportation and Water.
Funding for the upcoming health care discussion project comes through a grant from the Colorado Trust to the CLUB 20 Education and Research Foundation, in cooperation with Colorado Mesa University.
The format of the community meetings will be similar to civic engagement meetings conducted by CLUB 20 around the state a few years ago, which were part of a forum developed and utilized to talk about ballot initiative reform, Peterson said. They will also mirror the process currently being developed by TBD Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s nascent large-scale civic engagement effort designed to “create informed and constructive conversations among Coloradans about some of the biggest issues facing the state” including education, health care, transportation, and more. (TBD is an acronym for “To Be Determined.”)
The three-hour health care meetings will include a prepared presentation by the CLUB 20 Health Care Committee, which will share information about what is currently unfolding regarding health care policy at the federal, state level and local level.
From there, discussion will be sifted into four categories: quality, cost, access and personal wellness.
Participants will be split into discussion groups to talk about “what’s working well and what’ s lacking,” regarding health care in the community, but will also be able to register their thoughts and opinions anonymously by means of remote control-style clickers, or keypad polling devices.
“We will then have some specific numerical data to quantify how participating members view various issues in their area,” Peterson explained. The data will be used to record similarities and difference across all 25 communities and provide input back to the Colorado Trust.
CLUB 20 will also use the data “to advocate for health care changes, modifications, whatever might be going on in the health care world to address the needs of rural Colorado,” Peterson said.
Part of the scope of the grant is to enable the CLUB 20 Health Care Committee to develop a website presence and utilize social networking to carry its message even further.
“Our goal is to reach 1,000 people through these meetings,” Peterson said. “This is such a complex issue. It is going to be very interesting what we hear out there.”
Those invited to participate in the meetings represent community leaders across all spectrums, who have then gone on to identify additional community members who may add valuable input. Locally, the discussion will be hosted by Ouray City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli, Ouray Chamber Resort Association Marketing Manager Heidi Pankow and CLUB 20 Health Committee Chair Dick Allison.
“If someone is interested in attending and didn’t get an invitation, we encourage them to contact us,” Peterson said. “Heaven knows, we may miss someone who should be at the table.”
Peterson may be reached at 970/242-3264 or firstname.lastname@example.org