Southwest Health Alliance

Goals & Values Statement

Goals:  1) increase health literacy in the La Plata County region, and 2) develop a cooperative, local health care solution.

Objectives:  Collect regional data in La Plata, Archuleta, Montezuma, Dolores, and San Juan Counties and based on this data, determine whether a local health alliance has the negotiating power to develop a product that offers more affordable and accessible health insurance options to La Plata region employers and residents. 

Stated Values and Principles: 

  1. Available to all.
  2. Benefit the community and local economy.
  3. Reduce economic leakage.
  4. Transparency.
  5. Negotiate to maintain the best interest of the community at large, and not special interest groups. 
  6. Emphasis on data, evidence, and performance metrics.

Steering Committee

Monique DiGiorgio

Local First

Dolores County, Colorado

Pat Gerstenberger, MD

Digestive Health Associates, PC

Gary Keil

American Heritage Railways

Liane Jollon

San Juan Basin Public Health

Jack Llewellyn

Durango Chamber of Commerce

Doug McCarthy


Nadine Ontiveros

La Plata Electric Association

Mary Oswald

Local First and San Juan Hand Therapy

Nanette Penz-Reuter


Suzanne Phare

The Durango Network 

Durango Chamber of Commerce

Guinn Unger

Healthcare Durango

Tim Wheeler

Local First Foundation 

Briggen Wrinkle

Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado

Fall 2019 Peak Health Alliance Meetings

Be Local Radio HealthCare Playlist

Check out the meeting notes.

La Plata County Community Needs Assessment

Access to Healthcare for Small Businesses

About the Grant

In partnership with San Juan Basin Public Health, Local First and The Durango Network were awarded a grant from the Rocky Mountain Health Foundation to conduct a needs assessment to address affordable and effective health care for local, independent businesses in La Plata County. 

Outcomes of the Study

The overall goal of the assessment was to provide innovative health care models that change behavior, increase the quality and access to care, increase affordability, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of La Plata County residents. Through detailed focus groups, we explored the barriers to providing affordable health care for small businesses and their employees. This is the first phase of our work. In a future phase, we will test a variety of health care delivery models, including the formation of a health care cooperative, in order to provide effective and actionable health care options to the business community based on quantifiable data and on-the-ground case studies. 

Similar to Local First’s mission, we see this project as incorporating people, planet, and prosperity into an overall picture of healthier communities in La Plata County.

Many thanks to the Rocky Mountain Health Foundation for making this important work possible.The Rocky Mountain Health Foundation serves 22 counties in Western Colorado.  With the mission improving the overall health of a community, Rocky Mountain Health Foundation plans on distributing $1 million in its inaugural year. The Foundation addresses some of the Western Slope’s most pressing health needs, including access to healthcare, hunger, transportation to/from medical treatments, and integrated behavioral health.