United Health Foundation and the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence Partner to Increase Access to Behavioral Health Care Services for Residents of Rural Colorado

  • <p>$1.5 million, three-year United Health Foundation grant will enable the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence to support 39 Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Behavioral Health Fellows to receive Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certificates<br> </p>
  • <p>39 fellows will provide behavioral health care services to as many as 12,000 rural Colorado residents annually, increasing the capacity of rural clinics to provide behavioral health care services by approximately 25 percent<br> </p>
MINNETONKA, Minn. — 

The United Health Foundation is partnering with the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence (the Center) to address the shortage of mental health providers in rural Colorado communities.

Nine of the 10 Colorado counties with the highest drug overdose death rates are rural counties, and the average suicide rate in rural Colorado is 40 percent higher compared to state-wide rates.

The United Health Foundation will make a three-year, $1.5 million grant to the Center to recruit and support 39 currently-employed rural Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Behavioral Health Fellows so they can return to graduate school and earn a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) certificate. Fellows will receive application assistance, a financial stipend, support in securing their required 600 hours of behavioral health clinical practice and additional support services to ensure they successfully complete the certificate program and are eligible to receive a psychiatric-mental health credential from a national nursing board.

Once they are certified, the 39 PMHNPs will commit to providing behavioral health care services for a minimum of two years in rural areas and support an estimated 3,000 to 12,000 rural Colorado patients annually, increasing rural clinics’ behavioral health care services capacity by approximately 25 percent.

“The Center’s vision is to transform health care through workforce innovation and this generous grant from the United Health Foundation will help us do that,” said Ingrid Johnson, DNP, MPP, RN, chief executive officer and president of the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence. “Colorado’s population is growing and changing rapidly so we need new approaches like this behavioral health fellowship program to meet residents’ health needs, especially in rural communities.”

“I want to commend the United Health Foundation and the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence for their innovative partnership to improve access to behavioral health care services,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. “A zip code should never stand in the way of quality health care, and this collaboration will ensure expanded capacity to better serve the needs of Coloradans living in all four corners of our state.”

“As thousands of rural Coloradoans struggle with mental health, these types of partnerships between non-profits like the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence and companies like UnitedHealth Group will be critical to expanding access to much needed behavioral health care services,” said Colorado Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera. “I am thankful for United Health Foundation’s generous partnership to help train local nurses who are on the ground and delivering critical care to those who need it most. This is an exciting day for Colorado and a great opportunity to keep improving the health of our most vulnerable neighbors.”

“Advanced Practice Registered Nurses are essential for providing primary care and behavioral health care in rural and underserved communities, and there is a pressing need for expanded behavioral health care services in rural Colorado,” said Brian Thompson, chief executive officer, UnitedHealthcare Government Programs. “This partnership with the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence will help rural Colorado residents lead healthier lives by training APRNs to provide the right care in the right place at the right time.”

About the United Health Foundation

Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, the United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. The United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, the United Health Foundation has committed $430 million to programs and communities around the world. Learn more at www.unitedhealthgroup.com

About the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence

Formed in 2002, the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence (the Center) is the only neutral, nursing workforce-focused organization operating from a system- and state-wide perspective while at the same time working on the ground with over 175 clinical and educational partners from all segments of Colorado’s health care workforce pipeline. Learn more at www.ColoradoNursingCenter.org