Improving Health in the San Luis Valley

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Many people picture Colorado as a land of breathtaking scenery where whole towns are populated by outdoor enthusiasts - and fit, affluent skiers suddenly appear in a spray of snow.

The San Luis Valley

While Colorado ranks on several lists as one of the ‘healthiest’ state in the nation –a different reality is playing out in south-central Colorado, where residents suffer from high rates of diabetes and low health literacy. A large proportion of the population in the San Luis Valley is on federal or state health insurance programs; others have no insurance at all.

Culturally, the area resembles New Mexico more than Colorado. Families of Hispanic descent have called this stunning area -ringed by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the east and the San Juans in the west - home for over 400 years.

Dotted with farms and ranches at lofty altitudes, the region, once part of Mexico, is sparsely populated with 50,000 people spread over seven counties. One in five families lives below the federal poverty line.

San Luis Valley Health

San Luis Valley Health (SLV Health), is the largest healthcare provider in the valley, with a state-of-the-art regional medical center, a county hospital and five clinics scattered throughout the valley.

In addition to offering a wide array of quality health services, the organization receives grants from different sources to improve the health of residents. SLV Health has applied these funds to programs that target increased access to healthcare, diabetes management, cancer screening and smoking cessation.

“Get Healthy SLV” Project

In 2010, SLV Health contacted Upleaf to help design an online communication project that would span the valley, with the end goal of increasing health access.

The project was funded and in 2011 we launched “Get Healthy SLV” – a community-focused website and a communication infrastructure that included Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and email marketing.  We also customized Salesforce for SLV Health and integrated it with the email marketing tool to manage relationships with partners and community members.

Get Healthy SLV Website

We transformed the website into a rich resource hub, establishing a community events calendar and a searchable directory of local health care providers including everything from clinics, to local sustainable food, to yoga classes, local gyms and outdoor equipment stores. The project manager posted hundreds of articles on topics like health care reform, “Obamacare” processes and details of the law, tips on how to get and stay healthy, and much more.

Finally, to make the content fully accessible to Spanish speakers, we developed a Spanish language section of the website.

The new website made an immediate impact. Traffic to the site increased rapidly and the organization's email list jumped from 0 to over 1,500 recipients. Upleaf then helped boost SLV Health’s traffic even more by requesting a Google Ad Grant for the organization and setting up a series of ad campaigns.

Coming Alive

In 2013 Upleaf built a responsive app for the project’s “Coming Alive” initiative – a program managed by a coalition of community partners that encouraged employees of local companies to participate in a 10-week exercise and nutrition program. Employees used the app to log more than 500,000 minutes of exercise via their phones, tablets or PCs.

Meanwhile the organizers took advantage of the email marketing infrastructure to send participants weekly tips on healthy eating and exercise. Data was exported from the app to Salesforce to generate weekly reports on community engagement.  After ten weeks, the initiative had declared its winners in multiple categories. All of this was made possible by the reporting infrastructure built by Upleaf.

By the time the Get Healthy SLV project ended in October of 2013, more than 8,500 people in the Valley were reached through the project, representing over 25% of the adult population.

San Luis Valley Health Infrastructure

In 2013, the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center and Conejos County Hospital health care systems merged into a new, larger organization under the name San Luis Valley Health.

San Luis Valley Health asked Upleaf to create a new website with a warm, approachable yet professional feel. We built a responsive and mobile-friendly website, that includes a patient center with a host of health resources, a searchable directory of providers, another of services, and custom sections for diabetes and tobacco cessation programs.

Upleaf then adapted the rest of the "Get Healthy SLV" project infrastructure to be used by San Luis Valley Health. Social media platforms were rebranded, content from was merged into the new website, and email marketing and Salesforce reporting functions were also transitioned.

We expanded the CRM setup to help support tobacco and diabetes programs, with custom dashboards and reporting, mass emailing and survey capability, to facilitate reporting and communication with clients.

Additional Perks

Because of the flexible and scalable nature of the platforms chosen by Upleaf to manage the initial Get Healthy SLV project, San Luis Valley Health emerged in the end with a robust infrastructure at a significant discount.

Original project content was folded into the San Luis Valley Health website, boosting organic SEO and offering an ongoing service to the community. The CRM, mass emailing and survey infrastructures were easily adapted to the organization's later needs, and continue to be used to benefit the organization's operations and comunity outreach.