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Salud Family Health Clinics, a 13-clinic operation across Colorado
 
Photo courtesy: Salud Clinic Brighton
See photo gallery
 

By Ernest Gurulé
News@lavozcolorado.com
 
09/15/2021

It may seem hard to believe or even imagine, but not that long ago an entirely different world existed when it came to providing healthcare for the men and women---mostly migrants and their families---who came to work the fields of northern and northeastern Colorado. But it’s true.

Then, in 1970, along came Salud Family Health Clinic, a full service healthcare provider whose humble beginnings have grown from a tiny healthcare provider into a thirteen-clinic operation and mobile clinic vehicle serving more than 82,000 people a year in communities across northern and southeastern Colorado.

“We have grown quite a bit,” muses John Santistevan, President and CEO of Salud Family Health Centers. But in 1970, he said, “there was a lack of healthcare for migrants in the Platte Valley.” Today, Salud addresses the healthcare needs of a growing migrant and non-migrant population while addressing a full spectrum of healthcare needs that fifty years ago were, by comparison, the victim of neglect or scant attention. Today, Salud Family Health Clinics provide medical, dental, behavioral and pediatric care for its clientele.

“Because of Salud’s unique clientele, it is important that we incorporate traditional healthcare methods, along with modern tools like Telehealth in a culturally sensitive manner. We are developing “promotores de Salud” also known as community health workers , who will work closely with our healthcare team in promoting good health and behavioral modifications both for the patient and the community,” said Dr. Pradeep Dhar.

Salud Family Health Clinics, said Santistevan, also does not separate the physical side of healthcare from the mental. “We treat the body as a whole,” he said. The veteran healthcare executive calls Salud’s approach ‘an integrated model of care.’ “When people come in, they get a screening,” one that he calls seamless.

Salud also has incorporated the treatment of substance abuse into its practice. Dr. Dhar characterizes substance abuse in rural communities a serious consideration. “We have a full-fledged department…a very integrated model,” for addressing the needs of patients requiring this type of treatment. “It’s very important,” he said, “to continue with these programs in rural communities.”

Salud Family Health Clinics also have a staff of doctors and nurses for expectant or new mothers. “Without a doubt,” Santistevan said, “prenatal care is at the top of what we deliver. Young mothers get the care they need in a timely manner. It results in better outcomes.” “We all know the data about early intervention,” added Dr. Dhar. “It increases and boosts health outcomes.” But like their healthcare counterparts, both lament that “we always have more demand than we can provide.”

The 360-degree approach to healthcare includes a staff of dental care professionals. Its dental care clinic offers a full array of services, including pediatric dental care, prosthetic services---partials and dentures---along with its general dental care.

The Salud Family Health Clinics’ dental program also includes in-school visits for “onsite preventative dental services.” Its dental staff makes regular visits to area schools to provide examinations and “all children are eligible regardless of their dental insurance or ability to pay.” A child with dental care problems, Salud says, is three times more likely to miss school with oral care issues.

As with almost everything else over the last year and a half, Santistevan said the pandemic impacted Salud, too. “COVID has had a significant effect on our operation,” said Santistevan. “We went from thirteen hundred patients a day to the 350 range.” The patient drop also had a serious impact on its budget. “We were struggling financially,” but thanks to a little help from the state and telehealth, he added, things have stabilized.

In addition, COVID put an extra strain on staff. “Just the stress of coming to work and dealing with patients who may have had COVID,” he said, was just one more challenge. Still, with the Delta Variant--- the latest incarnation of the virus---as well as the lingering effects of the original virus, Santistevan is effusive in his praise for the way his staff has performed. “It has done tremendous.”

The role Salud Family Health Clinics have played in providing healthcare to a population that not that long ago was somehow overlooked has changed the entire landscape. The men and women who toil in the fields no longer have to delay or neglect their healthcare issues---which are every bit as serious as any other population. They can get the attention they need when they need it. Still, Santistevan and his colleague, Dr. Dhar, remain hopeful that things can get better.

For Santistevan’s part, “We would really love to implement more wellness programs providing healthcare to them (patients) instead of having them coming in for treatment.” “If a person is worried about food or housing, both types of services, we would like to invest.”

“I would like to get broadband to people’s houses,” said Dr. Dhar. “Telehealth should not be a privilege for a few people who have the means. I want to move into the future” with healthcare. “It would help people with transportation or childcare issues. It’s moving into the future.” https://www.noktashop.org.

For more information on Salud Family Health Clinics and its services, you can call 303.MYSALUD (697.2583) or 970.484.0999. You can access it on the web at www.saludclinic.org.















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