History and Background
Park County is home to many isolated, rural communities with nearly 16,500 residents. With mountainous terrain isolating neighboring towns and cities, any community member currently seeking medical care must cross at least one pass in order to access a provider.
Because of its geographical isolation, Park County is designated as a “Medically Underserved Area,” “Health Professional Shortage Area,” and a “Dental Health Professional Shortage Area,” indicating a shortage of medical and dental health care in the county. A primary care facility that offers affordable, accessible and coordinated care with long term commitment to Park County is the best solution to address these issues.
The struggling community lost its medical provider in 2013 and was unable to replace care. The primary care practice at 525 Hathaway Street was privately owned and operated from 2003 to 2013 by a local physician. In late 2013, and into early 2014, the practice changed ownership to an urban group practice with multiple offices throughout the state. The group practice left Fairplay in the summer of 2014, leaving the community without access to primary care locally.
In 2016, Park County’s only nurse practioner retired and Park County was without access to health care once again. In November 2017, the South Park Health Service District was approved as part of three ballot measures to gain health care access in Park County sustainably.
A year later, SPHS District assumed ownership and management of the clinic building from the Town of Fairplay. In a partnership with HealthONE, the clinic reopened in October 2019, ensuring quality health care for residents and visitors (visit South Park Health Care’s website).
The Board of Directors are all residents of South Park dedicated to seeing health care access return to our area.
Since its inception, the South Park Health Service District has:
- Assumed ownership and management of the clinic building from the Town of Fairplay and partnered with HealthONE
- Provided a Student Loan Forgiveness process which allowed recruitment then hiring of an exceptionally well qualified Nurse Practitioner at the clinic
- Subsidized the clinic in Fairplay
- Purchased a vaccine certified refrigerator and freezer in order to allow the clinic to participate in the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program which provides free childhood vaccines to kids covered by Medicaid or those who are uninsured
- Provided grants to Rocky Mountain Rural Health
- In February 2022, purchased the land at 715 Main St in Fairplay for the building of a pharmacy
Pandemic Related Successes
- Worked with HealthONE to provide rapid antigen testing for COVID-19 at the clinic
- Purchased and installed a physical airflow barrier in the clinic allowing COVID-19 infected people to be cared for at the clinic without exposing uninfected patients
- Provided viricidal fogging equipment, allowing for decontamination of the facilities after COVID-19 positive patients are seen at the clinic
- Through our Emergency Response Agreement with HealthONE and in partnership with Rocky Mountain Rural Health and Park County Public Health, used the clinic facilities to provide a weekly COVID-19 vaccination clinic from January through May of 2021 resulting in over 1,800 vaccines administered. (Thank you to all the volunteers who helped with this effort!)