Tri-County Health Network Envisions Communities That Are Vibrant and Healthy Where Everyone has the Opportunity and Ability to Thrive
From Our Beginning – Championing Social Equity
Tri-County Health Network understands that health is more than the care you receive in a clinic. Because of this, we have focused on addressing obstacles to achieve social equity in the region. There have been multiple studies on the impact that race, gender, sexual orientation among other protected classes can have on a person’s health. In order to provide our community with a holistic solution, we recognize that an approach that focuses on individual identity and access in our region is necessary to create sustained personal wellbeing. TCHNetwork through its Multicultural Advocacy team continuously seeks to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion internally and externally by partnering with organizations and collaborating with community leaders.
In an effort to be an accessible resource to the entire community, Tri-County Health Network has prioritized having bilingual support available to Spanish speakers since 2012. Outside of being linguistically inclusive, in 2016, TCHNetwork pivoted to an advocacy-driven approach that included the formation of the Collaborative Action for Immigrants (CAFI). CAFI is comprised of a broad spectrum of community members from a variety of sectors including education, government, non-profit, and local business. CAFI helps ensure that Latinx community members are receiving or are aware of community-wide support available to them. Additionally, CAFI has consistently elevated Spanish speakers in the region by coordinating education and awareness events on their behalf.
In line with its increased role as an advocate, TCHNetwork founded Somos Uno Telluride (SUT), a group of monolingual and bilingual community members, with the goal of empowering Latinx in the area. The intention of SUT is to promote the leadership of Latinx and allies of the Latinx population that live and work throughout San Miguel County. When SUT was formed, the original members attended extensive leadership training.
To further the creation of a culturally and linguistically inclusive environment, the Alliance for Inclusion (AFI) was started in 2016 as a way to ensure that senior leadership from local nonprofits as well as government agencies were regularly holding discussions around diversity best practices and identifying opportunities to enhance an appreciation for equity across the community. AFI reflects an understanding that change does not strictly come from the bottom up, but must also come from the top down. Through regular conversations during AFI meetings, organizations are challenged to acknowledge the disparities that exist in the region and to consider change from within to promote a welcoming community for all.
Alongside policy and community advocacy, the MCA team attends monthly meetings with the Coalition for Immigrant Health to discuss policy and other solutions to improving immigrant health coverage and access in Colorado, and to uplift the unique experiences of the immigrant community in our rural area. The coalition understands that there are different factors that can help improve our immigrant community’s health and wellbeing, and votes on the strategic priorities for our collective work and support legislation and endorse policies that promote health and justice. Our 2021 legislative priorities are two bill proposals: the creation of a legal defense fund, and the repeal of two anti-immigrant laws that require government employees to discriminate against immigrants.
The Latinx Affairs Committee (LxAC) is a group of monolingual and bilingual Spanish speakers that is officially recognized by the Town of Telluride and also enjoys the direct support of Town Councilperson Geneva Shaunette. LxAC was formed in 2020 with assistance from Mayor Delanie Young to elevate immigrant voices in the Telluride community by directly connecting them to local government representatives. Members of the immigrant community face many cultural and linguistic barriers when it comes to engaging in government functions. Through LxAC, TCHNetwork is able to reduce many of these barriers and ensure that diverse voices are included in community decisions.
With limited affordable legal aid available in the area, TCHNetwork is a recognized agency by the Department of Justice and as such has been able to provide affordable Immigrant Legal Services (ILS) to community members since 2019. Through its partially accredited representatives, TCHNetwork can assist with DACA renewals and applications, Long-term Permanent Resident (green card) renewals, and naturalization petitions. This service is valuable to immigrants in the area since it is linguistically accessible and recognizes the challenge of accessing legal assistance in a rural setting.
In 2019, Tri-County Health Network recognized there was a need to create more consistent education on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) in the community. By offering DEI training, TCHNetwork was able to offer educational opportunities that build upon one another. Additionally, these training can be delivered virtually or in-person at the request of an organization, meaning they are readily available for community members.
The COVID pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but it has disproportionally affected marginalized communities. The inequities that exist have only been further highlighted by COVID-19 and the economic recession. We have taken this moment to further engage with our Spanish speaking community members to identify gaps in services and opportunities to aid.
Outside of assisting the community with medical, food, and financial needs, we have continued to provide educational opportunities for the area by hosting a community-wide presentation on COVID-19 and its impact on disadvantaged populations. We also have had the opportunity to conduct DEI training with San Miguel County, the Town of Mountain Village, and the Town of Telluride.