mary-colemanMary Coleman graduated in 2000 from Harrison High School — and hasn’t slowed down since.

Starting as an administrative assistant at Memorial Hospital, she’s now the manager of network provider relations for Colorado Health Neighborhoods (CHN) at Centura Health.

In this role, she manages provider relations strategy across Colorado for the largest integrated physician network in the state (3,020 providers). It’s a big job, one that requires Coleman to work three days a week in Denver.

That would be more than enough for most people, but Coleman is also the mother of two young children and the recently elected board chairwoman of Leadership Pikes Peak.

Coleman took some time from her busy schedule to sit down with CSBJ earlier this week.

How did your come to be in Colorado Springs?

- Advertisement -

My dad was in the Army and was stationed at Fort Carson. After his retirement we all had the opportunity to look around and realized we were living in the most beautiful city we could find. I’ve always wanted to raise my children in a community that supports their growth and development, and is near their grandparents, so we’ve set our roots in Colorado Springs.

Tell us about your present job.

My current role directly influences the future of health care. I work for Colorado Health Neighborhoods at Centura Health. CHN’s goal is to increase the quality of health care provided to patients, drive down the cost of health care throughout the system by solidifying the care continuum and ensuring that patients have a good experience whenever they happen to need health care services. I oversee CHN’s provider relations strategy and team across the state of Colorado, so I have to have to understand about how health care is being delivered across multiple communities.

Biggest challenges?

We’re working to be successful in an age of health care that hasn’t quite arrived. In the old world of health care, we were able to achieve patient care goals in the hospital setting. The Affordable Care Act and other legislation have really pushed for patient-centered health care — whether they’re sick or not. Our providers are adapting to a new era of caring for patients from a wellness perspective, rather than from a sick perspective. The challenge is that there isn’t a standard format in place for completing this type of work, because payment models haven’t caught up to the new vision of health care. It’s been challenging, but also very rewarding. We have really set groundwork for improving how patients are cared for within communities — processes and philosophies that should carry us well into the future.

How did you become interested in health care?

I get this question all the time, and my answer is pretty simple. I am very passionate about health care, because to me, there isn’t anything more important.

Health care is how people come into the world, enjoy their world and leave the world. Throughout my career in health care, from the very beginning, I saw the entire system as having so much room for improvement and growth.

Health care is like a giant, slow-moving barge, but the great thing is that even a little movement goes a long way toward improving health outcomes in communities.

How do you see your role in the community?

During the past few years, I have really worked to focus my impact on Colorado Springs as a community.

When I worked for HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, CEO Steve Schaefer gave me the opportunity to become involved with Leadership Pikes Peak. I graduated from the young professional program, LNOW!, in 2011.

LPP was really and truly the gateway for my community involvement. It has opened doors for me personally and professionally that I wouldn’t have otherwise known existed. I am also working with Harrison High School on developing a program to connect alumni with current students.

What’s to like/not to like in Colorado Springs?

I love living in Colorado Springs. I also love that our community seems to be on the cusp of positive change. We’re working together more collaboratively, and have a lot of people committed to making it an even better place to live. Our local transportation system could be improved.

My office is located in Denver, and while we’re getting better, regional and local opportunities for improvements to the travel system are extensive. I would also love for the downtown area to be more family friendly.

Any advice for other young professionals in or possibly contemplating a move to this city?

Colorado Springs is a wonderful place to live, but you have to be willing to find your own avenue for involvement. There are so many incredible mentors and other young professionals in the community that are willing to help, but nobody is going to deliver you opportunities on a silver platter.

If you see something you think could be better — get involved and make it better. Do things that are big and scary, so that the next time you get a big and scary opportunity, it doesn’t seem like a big deal.

When I went to the Aspen Institute, and interacted with Bill Nye and Robin Wright, it was hard for me to believe I belonged there. But I always wanted to do big things, things that get you out of your comfort zone.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I show up every day and work as hard as I can.

Also, surround yourself with people who have shared interests. I’ve found my circle of friends to be the fuel that powers my ability to impact change in the community.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Most of my spare time is spent with my family. I have two young children, Emelia (3) and Austin (7). We love to hike, and swim, and spend time with our friends. I can also be found in coffee shops — drinking a lot of coffee to keep myself going. n CSBJ