2017 Report to the Community Letter








"We've joined with caring and innovative partners to launch new initiatives for some of the city's most vulnerable populations."



Doctor Carl Clark, president and C.E.O. of the WellPower, speaks at a conference. He is wearing a dark suit.

"We've joined with caring and innovative partners to launch new initiatives for some of the city's most vulnerable populations."



A Letter from Dr. Carl Clark

PART OF MAINTAINING OUR MENTAL HEALTH is to recognize when things are not going well, and we need a little help. But another important aspect of mental health – often overlooked amid our challenging, fast-paced news cycles – is to be aware of things that are going well, and stay thankful.

It’s been a good year for the WellPower, for a variety of reasons. We’ve joined with caring and innovative partners to launch new initiatives for some of the city’s most vulnerable populations. We’ve solidified programs that have transformed our relations with law enforcement. And our collective voices were heard as we fought hard to preserve the national health care funding that has opened access to care for almost every Denver child and adult.

'Housing First' Approach
Sanderson Apartments, the housing-for-the-homeless concept representing a revolution in public policy, architecture, finance and treatment, has launched with even more success than we’d dared to hope. The 60 units in southwest Denver are part of the city’s social impact bond: Private investors funding a public service they believe will have great outcomes. Sanderson Apartments is about helping people who have lived for years on the streets finally find housing and social supports. If the stability saves city agencies money in police, jail and detox costs, the private investors capture those millions of dollars in savings.

In partnership with the City of Denver, our dedicated staff fanned out across the city to find eligible residents who were experiencing homelessness. Those who were willing are now living in Sanderson’s unique design. Open living spaces, low-maintenance units and wide connections to the outdoors create a protective place to call home. We and our many partners at Sanderson are optimistic that “housing first” will prove the best approach to transforming long-troubled lives.

Partnership with Law Enforcement
Our co-responders program, meanwhile, is already providing encouraging results in some of the most delicate behavioral confrontations citywide. Denver Police have become big boosters for our placement of licensed social workers in their patrol cars to respond to mental health calls. Before we began the program, the police had little options other than taking someone in crisis to jail. Now, the majority of people who are contacted by the co-responders are getting connected to treatment services and resources. The jails love it, the courts love it, the police department loves it. Most importantly, people with illnesses needing treatment, now have a more caring option.

Funding for Mental Health Services
The financial backing for improving mental health services seemed to stabilize a bit in 2017, after much hard advocacy work by a broad coalition of health providers and vocal citizens. The Affordable Care Act has brought Denver’s uninsured rate from about 20 percent down to 9 percent, giving tens of thousands of people access to medical and behavioral care. The ACA now looks like it’s here to stay for a while. The Child Health Plan Plus has also been extended for years, protecting tens of thousands more kids and pregnant mothers. Loss of the Medicaid expansion would have put a $20 million hole in our budget, and we are grateful we can instead grow our plans to serve our community.

Plans for the Future
In the coming year, we will work with existing partners to launch Denver’s Regional Accountable Entity, part of state efforts to further integrate primary care and behavioral health services in medical homes. We hope to extend our goals of improving population health to even more Denver residents. Using verifiable health outcomes to overcome health disparities.

And we’ll take a little time to recognize those things that are going well. We are proud to see our Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being named Project of the Year by the International Association for Public Participation, recognizing the community-led integration of mental health care, dental services, preschool education and neighborhood gardens & kitchens. We were extremely pleased to be named a Denver Post Top Workplace for the fifth year in a row, a recognition that relies on responses from our invaluable employees.

When you feel as if you’re doing the right thing in the community and somebody recognizes it, it’s a wonderful thing. The WellPower’s committed and talented staff will strive to extend help to even more people in 2018.

Photo of quote that says, "When you feel as if you're doing the right thing in the community and somebody recognizes it, it's a wonderful thing." The quote is from Doctor Carl Clark.