CHAC, the name by which the Community Health Action Coalition is most commonly known, might be best described as “a facilitator for effective communication and collaboration among local agencies and individuals concerned with community health.” Towards this end, CHAC identifies unmet health needs in La Plata County, educates the public, and advocates for healthy lifestyles, the prevention of disease and disability, and for integrated health services that are accessible and affordable for everyone. “CHAC’s goal,” Pattie Adler says, “is to be a catalyzer for change and improvement - but we don’t want to lead an effort on an ongoing basis. Hopefully the effort lives on in a more sustainable way led by partners that CHAC has involved. CHAC began as a grass roots organization in 2001 - and it still is to this day. It’s driven by what people in the community see that we need.”
Pattie, who has a Masters degree in Public Health, moved to Durango from Fairbanks, Alaska in 1996. She worked at San Juan Basin Health for sixteen years before becoming Executive Director at CHAC four years ago. “For the past couple years we’ve been working with advance care planning,” Pattie says. “This comes into play when someone needs medical care but is no longer able to express their wishes - for instance, a young person who has been in a terrible car accident - or an elderly person who has lost the ability to make his or her wishes known.”
CHAC created a community wide initiative in 2016 called ‘My Life: Deciding in Advance’. This initiative is designed to encourage adults in La Plata County who are eighteen and over to establish an Advance Directive that is electronically accessible to the local healthcare system. CHAC is facilitating free community education and offering a Personal Resource Specialist who can help individuals, one on one, to address advance care planning. The goal is to make sure the local healthcare system has access to a record of an individual’s wishes, since documents sitting in a desk drawer at home will be of little use in an emergency situation. “We are working hard to reach out to local business and faith communities,” Pattie says. “We will send trained speakers to share a presentation with any group. We don’t charge and are willing to go to work sites and community groups.”
CHAC has a monthly meeting that everyone is invited to attend. Call 970.799.0218 to learn more - or visit www.chaclaplata.org. Advanced Directive forms are available at no charge on the website. CHAC will present the program at Lunch & Learn this coming July. “I appreciate the Chamber’s help in getting the word out,” Pattie says.
The Durango Chamber of Commerce
The Durango Chamber of Commerce is a membership-based organization that promotes and supports the local business community through communication, advocacy, education, leadership and financial viability.