After a career in radio, Scott Stafford started his own company, Auxiliary Media, which supported Internet-based radio programs.

Stafford left the radio business a few years ago to join Van Gilder Insurance Corp. as an employee benefits consultant. But his passion for radio has him back on the air.

Van Gilder is sponsoring a Saturday afternoon radio program from 2 to 3 p.m. on 1460 KZNT. It’s called Business Initiative, and, since its inception Jan. 7, host Stafford has been focusing on one of the most challenging issues to businesses today – health care.

Stafford also is trying to spotlight a nonprofit organization each week.

Lynn Pelz of Peak Vista Community Centers was a guest Feb. 4. Pelz talked about the challenges facing nonprofits and the issues related to serving a growing community of uninsured.

Other guests have included Mike Kazmierski, the president of the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., and Pam Shockley-Zalabak, chancellor of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

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Stafford is tackling health care again this Saturday. Donna Wilson, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield; Laurie Wilcox-Romero, Rocky Mountain Health Plans; C.J. Moore, Kaiser Permanente; Justin Pieper, MetLife; and Allison Kostecka, Sun Life, will discuss health care costs and the “solutions to control those costs,” Stafford said.

Rocky Mountain Health Plans loyal to doctors

Veering from the norm, Rocky Mountain Health Plans will not follow suit with the 2006 planned Medicare reimbursement cuts. Medicare announced a 4-percent decrease nationally in reimbursement rates for 2006.

“A cornerstone of our success is our relationship with our providers,” said John Hopkins, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Health Plans. “We did not have to make this decision, but we feel it makes an important statement about the value we place on our provider partners and how much we appreciate their continued participation with us in providing our members with the highest levels of quality care.”

According to a news release, “For those contracted providers whose reimbursement is based on current Medicare rates, Rocky Mountain Health Plans will continue to use the higher 2005 reimbursement rate scale. Congress is expected to address the national Medicare cut later this year.”

News from the health department

The El Paso County Department of Health and Environment is building a communications network that will target specific populations who may not benefit from traditional “modes of communication,” according to a news release.

The department is enlisting other organizations, such as the Center on Deafness, United Way and Silver Key Senior Services, to assist in the effort.

The emergency communication plan provides 24-hour contact information for local media.

Targeted special populations include the following:

  • Deaf and hearing impaired
  • Blind and visually impaired
  • Elderly
  • Ethnic groups, including blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics
  • The homeless
  • Latchkey children
  • Residents who speak no English or limited English
  • Undocumented immigrants
  • Physically disabled
  • Tourists
  • Developmentally disabled

On another note: Rosemary Bakes-Martin, the county health department administrator, received recognition from the Colorado House of Representatives in January for her leadership role in public health. Rep. Mark Cloer honored Bakes-Martin’s efforts to protect the community against the West Nile virus and her involvement with emergency and pandemic planning.

Bakes-Martin has worked for the health department since 2000. She became director in 2002.

Local couple running for leukemia

A husband-and-wife team is running a marathon for the first time – all for charity.

Tony Matthews, a broker associate with Gloriod & Associates, and his wife, Eileen Healy, the marketing half of the business – are participating in a marathon June 4 to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Healy said that although the two are “fitness enthusiasts,” neither she nor her husband “have attempted a road race in this century.”

However, observing the effects of the disease on their older daughter’s classmate and hearing a speech by a leukemia survivor prompted their support of the cause and participation in the nationwide marathon.

The organization provides the Matthews and other participants with an area team coach.

“Every Saturday, we get together with the core group and go for a run,” she said. “Our coach, Mike, is a great guy, and he has been training people for these events for several years.”

The Matthews will run in the Steamboat Springs Marathon. Their goal – in addition to finishing the race – is to raise $4,000 for blood cancer research.

“We are taking on a big challenge,” she said.

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Marylou Doehrman covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.