Pueblo’s Health Solutions celebrates 60 years of saving lives in – Pueblo Chieftain | Directory Mayhem

The nonprofit health organization Health Solutions is celebrating 60 years as a lifesaver this month and celebrating the brave caregivers who helped establish the local mental health center.

Instead of what was then the approach of keeping mentally ill patients locked behind closed doors and isolated, these caregivers wanted to help Puebloans get out of institutions and work on their recovery in a less restrictive environment. It was a newfangled approach six decades ago and was neither popular nor mainstream.

“It was a pretty big deal,” said Jason Chippeaux, chief executive officer of Health Solutions. “It’s interesting to think that 60 years ago this month, people dreamed of opening a community mental health center.”

“Now we see 625 patients a day and we’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I’m sure they couldn’t even dream of something like this,” he said at the time.

The agency was founded in September 1962 as Spanish Peaks Mental Health Center. At the time, it was housed in the basement of the former Health Services building on the 100 block of Central Main Street across from the former police department, said Rob Kepplinger, Health Solutions executive vice president.

“We started with just two or three employees and currently have about 450,” said Kepplinger.

“Our building count has also grown tremendously as we have 14 service locations and over 20 buildings,” Chippeaux said.

Rob Keplinger

For the past six decades, the agency has served residents of Pueblo, Las Animas, and Huerfano counties. Some of the growth is in primary health care, beyond mental health services, Chippeaux said.

“We added a broader range of primary care in 2016 because we found in research nationally and in Colorado that the average person who has a serious, ongoing mental illness dies 25 years earlier than their counterpart in the general population ‘ said Chippeaux. “Many of the deaths were attributed to a lack of access or engagement in the physical health category.”

These health services are provided at 41 Montebello Road, Suite 116. The care is open to everyone in the community, he said.

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The former El Pueblo campus at 1591 Taos Road on St. Charles Mesa has been used as Health Solutions' Family Center since 2016.

Child and family-oriented care is planned for the future

In the near future, Health Solutions’ continued growth will take place on the former El Pueblo Adolescent Treatment Community property at 1591 Taos Road on St. Charles Mesa. Health Solutions is working to remodel the space to create a premier youth and family services center on the north side of the property.

There will be a daycare center for toddlers, a therapeutic preschool program, learning spaces, and fun amenities like a rock-climbing experience. Traditional behavioral health services as well as pediatric and family health care are also offered at the site.

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