ST. GEORGE — Since opening its doors nearly 10 months ago, the Creek Valley Health Clinic in Colorado City, Arizona, has endured both the growing pains of being the first health clinic in the community in over decade as well as enduring the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, with the help of grant money awarded by the Northern Arizona Healthcare Foundation, the clinic is continuing to grow and expand both mental and physical health services to the Short Creek community of Colorado City and Hildale, Utah – and beyond.
Hunter Adams, CEO of the clinic, told St. George News that since opening at the beginning of December 2019, the clinic has served over 2,000 different patients, including 5,000 unique medical and behavioral visits. They have also grown to 25 employees.
Seeing the medical and behavioral needs of the community has been an eye-opening experience, Adams said, especially when it comes to chronic disease management.
“We have a large population of patients with diabetes, hyper-tension and other kind of chronic diseases,” he said, “and through our efforts we’ve really been able to make a positive impact on so many lives.”
One of the major benefits to the community is its location; before this clinic, those in need would have to drive to Hurricane or St. George to receive treatment.
Ange Johnson, clinical director of the facility, told St. George News that she had just treated a patient earlier that morning who has a chronic condition but was unable to get the help she needed until the clinic opened.
“Now she’s able to manage it a lot better because she can, first of all, afford it, and she doesn’t have to drive to St. George to get the care the needs every month,” Johnson said. “She was just expressing her gratitude to us this morning about how it just changed her whole condition and her life being able to just get her care here.”
These types of client testimonials can only help, Johnson said, as one of the major growing pains of opening the clinic has been helping a community that has experienced significant trauma overcome their fear of healthcare “while getting them to trust us and provide care for them.”
The staff at Creek Valley Health Clinic address this by providing a safe space with familiar faces – most of whom are locals – while also ensuring information will be kept private and secure.
“Just knowing that they can come back and whatever they show up with we’re not going to judge them,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to see them any differently, and we’re just going to treat them with kindness. It’s those repetitive experiences that have really built the trust and kept them returning.”
Another way they commit to their patients’ well-being is through follow-up calls after their visits.
Adams said listening to individual feedback and refining their practice in order to align with the community has been integral to this process.
“Here, your voice really does matter,” he said. “Sometimes when you go to the larger health facilities you might just feel like a number and voiceless, but here, we’ve really worked hard to listen to our patients, listen to our community and adapt to our community.”
Adams added that even though they are located in Colorado City, they are open to patients from both Utah and Arizona, as well as tourists who are visiting the area.
“Our door really is open to anyone who walks through.”
The recent grant awarded by the Northern Arizona Healthcare Foundation will help them continue to provide these services and more. Creek Valley Health Clinic received $900,000 toward improving community health in the region from the foundation, which works toward expanding access and help outcomes for behavioral health services.
Rick Smith, president and CEO of Northern Arizona Healthcare Foundation, said in a press release that, given the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no better time to focus on improving behavioral and mental health services.
“These grant recipients were selected for innovative approaches to restoring health and wellness in our communities,” he said.
Adams expressed his gratitude to the foundation for the grant.
“If you look at the local rate of suicide that we have in our community, if you look at the local rate of expression and anxiety, we are significantly higher than the state averages and the national average,” he said.
Providing assistance to those who are impoverished or uninsured to get mental healthcare is crucial, Adams said, so that everyone in the community can have an opportunity to improve total well-being.
Of course this mission is long-term and exceeds the grant award, he added, but this money allows them to continue to expand and improve their behavioral health services.
Adams said the clinic is currently taking applications to hire a licensed clinical social worker. He also reiterated that anyone in need of a primary care provider is welcome at the clinic.
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