Amber Ptak

Community Health Partnership exists to improve the health of the Pikes Peak region by pioneering collaborative leadership. The organization works with diverse networks to tackle complex problems confronting communities across the Pikes Peak region.

Recently, an isolation shelter opened in the City Auditorium to house homeless neighbors presenting with symptoms, or confirmed cases, of COVID-19.

The homeless isolation shelter exists to provide respite care to persons ill and experiencing homeless, ensuring our local hospitals’ emergency departments are not overwhelmed by those presenting with acute symptoms, while avoiding rapid transmission of the virus at shelters, encampments and to the broader public.

Community Health Partnership oversees the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care, a local consortium that helps communities plan for and provide a full range of emergency, transitional, and permanent housing to address the needs of persons experiencing homelessness. The Continuum of Care staff coordinated the emergency effort that included city and county leaders, major health systems, medical professionals, area shelters, multiple nonprofits, transportation services, police and fire, the local library district and more.

It was a collaborative effort, a coalition pointing to a singular goal, a collective lift.

The above entities deserve praise and credit not only for bringing the vision to life, but for their patience and persistence in getting it done, even when faced with adversity.

As we move to forecast mid- and long-term recovery efforts, the spirit that brought to bear the homeless isolation shelter should be our community’s focus moving forward — together we can accomplish what one organization cannot accomplish alone. In a community that is often criticized for its silos and duplicative efforts, we seem to be getting it right these days.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the Pikes Peak Community Foundation activated its Emergency Relief Fund, in partnership with Pikes Peak United Way and Pikes Peaks Regional Office of Emergency Management, to centralize private and public donations to support recovery efforts.

Pikes Peak Community Foundation raised $1 million in donations and has invested in more than 35 local nonprofits, just 30 days from the governor’s declared state of emergency.

Exponential Impact is leading the charge to support the small business sector by creating Survive & Thrive COS, providing recovery funding, mentoring, and other resources to increase the sustainability and future growth of our local businesses.

Again, in partnership with various other community partners, businesses, foundations and local investors, Exponential Impact will offer immediate relief services in the form of low-interest loans of up to $25,000. The first round of loans was announced last week.

By collaborating with like-minded organizations and experts, by convening professionals from the business and nonprofit community, by inviting a variety of thinkers and innovators to the table, as a community, let’s approach recovery through systems thinking, holistically approaching the challenges ahead.

Let’s engage in bold conversations that lead to enhanced resources and intelligent policies and actions to help our community move through the impacts associated with COVID-19.

We need to work jointly with others across sectors and boundaries to address issues more effectively and leverage existing resources as we build new ones.

We’ll need this in business, health care, education, conservation, real estate, travel and tourism, hospitality, arts and culture, and more. COVID-19 took a swipe at us all.

Together is the only path forward. In crisis, we have embraced this mindset. In the days and weeks ahead, let’s follow suit.

Amber Ptak is Interim CEO of Community Health Partnership.

Amber Ptak is Interim CEO, Community Health Partnership.

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