Peak Vista Community Health Centers have served the Pikes Peak and East Central regions of Colorado since 1971.
From its origins as the Free Clinic of Colorado Springs and Community Health Centers, the growth of Peak Vista can be seen both in the number of service locations and in the types of services provided. Originally named the Free Clinic of Colorado Springs, the center began as an all-volunteer organization open just two nights a week for walk-in patients. The founding mission, to provide exceptional health care for people facing access barriers through clinical programs and education, has been utilized even more as the nonprofit has grown to 26 centers serving more than 92,000 patients annually and over 425,000 encounters. The philosophy that everyone should have access to health care, which initiated the founding of the organization, has remained relevant as Peak Vista has continued to grow. Peak Vista was one of the first to address the need for care within the community and was the first Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Colorado. Peak Vista has been a recipient of United Way funds since 1983 and became accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, Inc in 2005.
From its origins as the Free Clinic of Colorado Springs and Community Health Centers, the growth of Peak Vista can be seen both in the number of service locations and in the types of services provided. The organization originally offered primary medical care, adding dental to the list of services in 1994, expanding in 1989 with the addition of women’s health, pharmacy, laboratory and a well child waiting area.
The organization’s expansion did not stop there; it gathered speed after Peak Vista recognized the need for population and location specific care. This led to the development of a health center in Woodland Park, which later was relocated in Divide in 2006. A homeless health center was added in 1998 and in 2001 Peak Vista introduced a senior health center and a pediatric health center. Behavioral Health was added in 2003 when Peak Vista partnered with Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group and established a collaborative with the CU Aging Center. In 2005, Peak Vista opened a school-based health center in Colorado Springs’ Harrison School District 2 and added a family health center in Fountain, which provides medical and dental care to residents of the Fountain Valley. The following year brought two new family health centers, including a 34,000 square foot building in the heart of Colorado Springs. Peak Vista also formed a new partnership with the Myron Stratton Consortium in 2006, receiving a $1.5 million donation from the Myron Stratton Foundation to renovate a building on the property for a new health center. In 2008, in collaboration with many partners, Peak Vista established the Collaborative Clinic at Union (now located at the Academy Campus), which provides patients with HIV/AIDS support.
Some ancillary services offered include First Visitor, a home visitation program for new or expectant parents that provides information about early childhood development. Second Sight Vision Services was established for patients with visual impairments in 2005. The Outreach Program, added in 2007, helps patients navigate through the healthcare system, assisting members with registration.
The name Peak Vista Community Health Centers was adopted in 2004 and Peak Vista’s experience of providing care within the community for the past 38+ years has confirmed that reducing barriers to accessing care is often more complex than simply opening a clinic.
In addition to removing physical barriers, Peak Vista also addresses the potential cultural barriers that can arise when patients and providers speak different languages. With 21% of the patient population self-describing as better served in a language other than English, Peak Vista provides translation services to those who request it and has Spanish bilingual staff at all 26 health centers.
Exceptional primary care is not the only way in which Peak Vista recognizes that health status is a result of various factors. Well-Child Waiting areas provide a safe play area for children while their caretaker is receiving care. The Reach Out and Read (ROAR) program recently began giving a book to each child during their well child exam to encourage an interest in reading and education. In addition, transportation assistance is available to those who need it.
Peak Vista has continually expanded to meet the complex and changing needs of its patient population in order to enhance the health of the entire community.
Exceptional primary care is not the only way in which Peak Vista recognizes that health status is a result of various factors. Peak Vista’s commitment to reducing access barriers has never wavered. While the original all-volunteer staff has grown to 850+ paid staff, there continues to be a large and vibrant body of active volunteer physicians. The desire to build on its founding ideals and provide care for those who face access barriers is evidenced through the organization’s growing programs. Peak Vista provides care in numerous settings, with a multi-dimensional focus and regardless of the patient’s ability to pay, continually ensuring that those who may face access barriers overcome them to receive high quality care.
In 2006, Peak Vista transitioned the entire system to Electronic Health Records so that a patient's medical record is in digital format, providing a standardization of care. In 2006, Peak Vista established its Foundation, a separate 501c(3) non-profit organization, with the sole purpose of sustaining the medical, dental and behavioral health services provided by Peak Vista Community Health Centers. With the goal that everyone in the community has access to a health care home, Peak Vista Community Health Centers continues to fundraise to open doors to health care access.