Meet the Leaders

The experts informing Health is Local are some of Colorado’s top health care leaders, and their work is known around the state. Learn more about who they are and what their perspective is on the issues:

Andrea Anderson

Andrea works as the Human Resources Manager for the Rocky Mountain Region at Murphy-Brown LLC and Smithfield Food, one of the largest employers in the county. Andrea is responsible for 210 employees working at Murphy-Brown farms all within a 45-mile radius of Yuma. Andrea’s job keeps her highly informed on the current health systems as if affects large businesses. Additionally, through her work with employees, Andrea is very in tune to the community resident experience of health reform.

We handed out all the sheets, all the information that we’re required by law to hand out, plus some because we’re trying to educate, to help people get online, get on the marketplace, find out where you are at. And we didn’t get questions. I think for those that are trying to live through it, [health reform is a topic of conversation], but it’s mainly those who need to maneuver it who are talking about it.”

Patricia Brewster-Willeke

Patricia Brewster-Willeke is the Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Rural Communities Resource Center (RCRC) in Yuma, Colorado. Founded 30 years ago, RCRC provides programs and services aimed at building family and community strengths and filling the gaps in services that are missing for rural families in Yuma, Washington and surrounding counties. The Resource Center provides advocacy, education, and support to create systems change and develop programs that promote the physical, emotional and economic health of the area. With locations in both Yuma and Akron, the RCRC staff are highly committed to their community and work as a cohesive group. Through this work, they are certainly a group that has their fingers on the pulse of the greater Yuma community.

I think [the Affordable Care Act] is one of the most exciting, beneficial pieces of legislation we have seen in many years and I expect it to have a huge impact on the health of Coloradans as a whole and our communities in particular. It will impact the way people feel about themselves and their lives and bring a sense of hope to many, many people.

Joe Foltmer

Joe Foltmer is the local pharmacist and Mayor of Wray on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. Joe is intimately involved with the health of his community, running Foltmer Drug for over 19 years as the only pharmacist in town. In addition, Joe is a returned Wray native and the town Mayor, which keeps him informed on broader community issues. Through these roles, he stays connected with the needs of his neighbors and the importance of a health care system that meets those needs.

Our community’s health care system is unique, in that each and every health care provider and their team know each other very well and work together to provide the best comprehensive care for patients without duplication of services.

John Gardner

John Gardner is the CEO of Yuma District Hospital and Clinics. As the leader of a rural community hospital, John oversees the majority of the community’s health care providers. This management role gives John insight into the small community’s health care dynamics and relationships between the hospital and smaller practices. John is much more in touch with the experiences of patients than most high-level health administrators in larger communities, as just a trip to the grocery store or a local event on the weekend are often where he learns the most from those he works to serve.

I think the changes that we have in front of us are exciting. I talk to people who are in similar phases of their career as I am and they say this is a great time to retire. And I’m saying this is an incredibly exciting time. Maybe we can better serve our patients. This will be fun to ride through. Scary, but fun.

Tom Parks

Dr. Tom Parks has been a farm animal veterinarian in Yuma since the late 1970s. Through his animal hospital, he has developed countless connections with local residents and a strong reputation as a community leader. These connections give him a unique perspective on the health care system, as well as how health reform has impacted the Yuma community.

It’s always so odd to me, that people who are here as a community are against reform, because they think we are going to take care of our own. And they think that a 5 or 10 or 20 thousand dollar fundraiser will solve people’s medical needs. My big hope it that as people get enrolled, is that maybe we can see an end to that. Though people feel good about doing it, I think they fail to recognize why we are doing this and it’s not necessary to have fundraisers.