Denver Indian Health Clinic Serves an Important Need in Colorado Healthcare Community

Date: October 28th, 2019Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, PatientCare 360, Social Determinants of Health


As the only clinic of its kind, Denver Indian Health and Family Services provides culturally appropriate care to patients who often come from difficult circumstances and have complex medical issues.

Did you know that Denver is a hub for people who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native? Due to its proximity to tribal lands and designation as a city for the relocation and employment assistance programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Denver is a popular location for this group to work and live in. There are representatives from more than 200 tribal nations in Colorado, with the Lakota and Navajo Nation tribes being the most prevalent.

Trying to quantity the specific number of residents who identify in these groups is difficult. The United States census is conducted every 10 years, with the 2010 census being the most recent. The 2010 count of American Indian/Alaska Natives in Colorado was just over 56,000 – mainly in Denver and Colorado Springs. But due to difficulties in accurate counting of this group, many believe the numbers to be much higher.

“With the census coming up next year, it will be interesting to see the numbers. I believe there are more than we know of in the metro area – it’s a very undercounted population,” said Adrianne Maddux, Executive Director, Denver Indian Health and Family Services. “Aided by some help from a community liaison, this next census should be more accurate.”

The Only Clinic of Its Kind

Denver Indian Health and Family Services, Inc. is the only clinic of its kind in metro Denver. The staff provide culturally appropriate health care for American Indian families and individuals. In addition to medical services, they also provide behavioral health services, substance abuse treatment, dental and vision services, diabetes management, nutrition services and a wellness gym.

“We’re the only clinic in the Denver area that serves this population,” said Maddux. “We treat about 2,000 patients a year. Many have complex issues such as hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, and substance abuse. They have a lot of different circumstances that might be keeping them from being happy and healthy.”

HIE Helping Busy Providers Get Back to Patients

Maddux took advantage of a timely funding opportunity from CORHIO and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to participate in the health information exchange (HIE) at a lower cost. Clinic physicians and other staff use CORHIO’s PatientCare 360 web portal to pull up patient histories and get the full picture of their care. In particular, they are looking for recent emergency room visits and information to assist in their diabetes education.

“It helps me better prepare for patient visits by pulling ER visit information, lab values and primary care notes. It gives me a clearer picture of their care over the last few months” said Sarah Hormachea, Diabetes Program Manager.

Prior to being on the CORHIO health information exchange, Denver Indian Health and Family Services had to request records in advance from hospitals or community providers. “Our record requests have gone way down since CORHIO, and now we get them right away,” said Maddux.