Community Comes Together around College Football and the Triple Aim
In Pueblo County, two hours south of Denver, we have a history of working together to make our community better. Take the ThunderWolves, for example. They’re the Colorado State University-Pueblo football team that had been defunct for 25 years, until the entire community came together in 2008 to raise the funds needed to bring them back. As a result, many other programs were added at CSU-Pueblo, increasing enrollment and retention. We even went on to win the 2014 NCAA Division II National Football Championship title.
That’s a big deal in this community of nearly 162,000, where the median income is $15,000 less than the state average and one third of our children live in poverty. Despite these challenges, Pueblo is a resilient county. In recent years, we have reduced our teen birth rate by 40%, and after implementing a smoking ordinance in the city of Pueblo, we have seen a 26% drop in heart attacks.
So, our reputation for collaborating to catalyze community change is not only limited to football. It also is demonstrated by the Pueblo Triple Aim Corporation (PTAC), which came together in 2010 as a steering committee of 20+ local organizations with the goal of collectively addressing the county’s poor health and rising costs of care. In 2012, it was decided that a permanent entity was needed to coordinate and advance efforts to make Pueblo County the healthiest county in Colorado, and PTAC received funding from the Colorado Health Foundation to get started.
Prior to receiving that funding, PTAC partnered with ReThink Health, learning to use its Dynamics Model to gather and interpret local data, which were then used to create an integrative map of Pueblo’s health system. The Model helped us develop a strategy to improve health in our community—deciding to focus on five priorities: adherence support, promoting healthy behaviors, improving care coordination, reducing hospital readmissions, and building pathways to advantage.
We partnered with ReThink Health again in 2014. This time to update our Model with our most current regional data to make sure our priorities had not changed as well as demonstrate the impact of our work. We also used this second interaction to facilitate increased engagement among the broader community and train champions on how to use the Model, which spurred even deeper conversations around achieving the triple aim in Pueblo.
We know we’re making progress. Recently, we received $565,000 from Kaiser Permanente to continue to evaluate and expand our efforts to make Pueblo County the healthiest county in Colorado. We believe our work with ReThink Health was a factor in the Kaiser Permenante’s decision—they said they like how the Model allows us to test our theories of change and envision long-term results. They also were impressed with PTAC’s ability to stick together over the years.
So, here in Pueblo, we look forward to cheering on our local college football team this fall. And we look forward to continuing to use the ReThink Health Model to guide our strategy discussions to achieve the triple aim in Pueblo County, and to help bring uncommon partners together to create common solutions.
Go ThunderWolves! Go PTAC!
Follow the Pueblo Triple Aim Corporation on Twitter at @PuebloTripleAim to stay up-to-date.
Matt Guy is the managing director of the Pueblo Triple Aim Corporation.