Meaningful difference made in this community every day

Just about a year ago, I was visiting friends and family in Tempe, Ariz., taking in the initial hours of 2012. The sun warmly enveloped us, and enthusiasm for the coming year was a chief player in the tone of our conversations.

As I type in chilly Mancos, longing for the warmth of that desert chat, I’m grateful for the enthusiasm retained during these last 11½ months.

I’m grateful for (and not limited to): Crews who worked the Weber, Goblin, Little Sand and other wildfires; emergency first responders, police and fire departments that not only worked these events – but also every other night of the year, too; for Manna Soup Kitchen, Bridge Emergency Shelter, Grace’s Kitchen, Volunteers of America and others in service to individuals and families in need; crisis intervention teams in Durango, Cortez, Pagosa and Ignacio and for all CIT trainers; a special thanks to Mercy Regional Medical Center for saving a friend’s life and delivering a nephew into the world; our local United Way; our two local health departments; the people trained in mental-health first aid; for; and last, but not least – and not really last – I’m grateful for the people who made it possible to open Axis Health System’s Cortez Integrated Healthcare facility.

While granted, this last declaration might sound a bit like “home-team” cheerleading – the true experience of patient care within this new facility impresses me. Seeing our team of behavioral-health and primary-care providers working together is darn exciting. As a person who is guardian of a family member disabled by mental illness, I believe an integrated approach to health care is a game-changer in every sense of the term. I loudly applaud our getting under way in Cortez.

I also learned this year that when Cortez (Hernan) arrived in the “new world” from Spain, the first order of business for he and his crew was to burn their boats. As Axis Health System ventures into this new reality of health care – we understand that there is no going back. Our boats are ashes on the beach.

Further, contemplating 2012 as 52 single weeks makes it seem like some pretty big things have happened in a relatively short amount of time. There were plenty of challenges. However, I’d say there were even more examples of our community’s resiliency.

As the odometer of time stands poised to roll over once again, I’m looking forward to sitting in the desert and greeting a new year. If past performance is indeed a predictor of future results for our community, I’d say we’re a good bet.

From what I’ve seen, I think we have a functional understanding that close geographical proximity to others in and of itself does not make community.

If you’re looking to get involved, I highly recommend it. There’s a lot of meaningful difference being made in this community every day. If you’re involved, thanks very much for all you do.

Mark White is director of quality for Axis Health System. Reach him at or 335-2217.