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Ending the opioid epidemic begins at La Clinica

Report on steering committee meeting held in Denver

by Travis Nelson
DENVER — On January 27, the steering committee for the group which is working to fight opiate addiction and overdose with medical cannabis met in Denver.  This was the group’s third meeting to discuss how to move the project forward in Huerfano County, both at the Faris Green Campus to be located just northwest of Walsenburg along highway 69, and the Helping End the Opioid Epidemic (HEOE) project, which will be launched at La Clinica in Gardner.
Around forty members of the steering committee were able to attend this recent meeting.  Members include PhDs, MDs, nurses, students, and players from the legal cannabis industry.  A presentation was given to the steering committee by the HEOE board members.
Assistant director of HEOE, Kyle Dijon Hill, MS, gave a presentation on La Clinica’s founding in Gardner by doctors Leonce Evans and Mai Ting in the 1970’s and demonstrated how the HEOE project aligns with the original mission of La Clinica.  She expressed a sincere interest in restoring a fully functional medical clinic to the town of Gardner to serve its aging population.  She commended the Colorado Cannabis Growers Association’s participation in fundraising efforts to preserve La Clinica from pressing tax liens during the summer of 2016.  CCGA is an ongoing fundraising partner for this project.
Use of $250,000 health care model to be donated to the project for 18 months
Medical director Dr. Uma Dhanabalan MD, MPH, FAAFP outlined how her Total Health Care© model will be donated for implemnation to La Clinica and Helping End the Opioid Epidemic.  The THC© model, with a value of $250,000, will be donated to the project for a term of 18 months.
Volunteer attorneys for the project are currently in the process of drafting a legal operating agreement between La Clinica, Dr. Dhanabalan and HEOE, outlining how this will take place.  Dr. Dhanabalan explained the THC© model of “Educate, Embrace, and Empower,” will provide comprehensive compassionate care, counseling, support and education to patients.  The model focuses on preventing illness by promoting wellness.
Friendly negotiations are currently underway with the La Clinica board, laying out how clinic space will be used through a lease or cooperate fundraising agreement.
The plan for the HEOE project is to open La Clinica’s doors on April 24, 2018 to begin prescreening Colorado patients who are struggling with opioid addiction.  Those individuals will be given the option to sign up for the HEOE project, in order to participate in a scientific clinical study measuring the effectiveness of medical cannabis and other forms of non-conventional therapy on opioid use cessation.
Participants in the study will be provided with free care, including a physician’s recommendation for a state medical cannabis license.  They will also receive free quarterly follow-up appointments and access to  monthly support meetings led by Dr. Dhanabalan at La Clinica, and be provided with a renewal appointment to update their medical cannabis license at the end of the study.  Throughout this process, data will be collected to measure the success rate of the HEOE project.  Upon completion of the pilot project at La Clinica, the THC© model will be expanded to an additional five locations in Colorado.
COO Kimberly Lincoln, PhD gave a presentation on efforts taking place to raise the funds needed for the opening of the HEOE project.  She reported on a “Helping End the Opioid Epidemic” turquoise bracelets fundraiser.  This effort was started after the St. Croix Chippewa tribe donated the first $5,000 to catch La Clinica up on last year’s taxes and pay for needed repairs to heating and plumbing at the medical facility.
CFO Eric Roley, MBA, spoke about the ongoing efforts to procure state and federal grants to be used to fund a community health clinic and the HEOE project at La Clinica.  The HEOE project is in the process of writing grants to secure necessary funds in order to complete the pilot program.
Working toward annexation of the Faris Green Campus area 
Sam Faris of Snowy River Ranches gave a quick update about the ongoing annexation efforts and survey work on the campus site which is being conducted by local surveyor Dan Wachob.  Sam expressed sincere thanks to architect Electra Fowler-Johnson who generously donated architectural work for the Faris Green Campus.  Fowler-Johnson is a native of Gardner and is the head of SALT Workshop.
The steering committee meeting was followed by a two hour fundraising event.  Two time Super Bowl champ Derrick Martin came to show his support for the HEOE project and expressed excitement about bringing a free football and cheer camp to Huerfano County in the near future.
Following the fundraiser, HEOE board members met with US Congressman and Colorado gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis to discuss the Faris Green Campus and the HEOE project at La Clinica.  Polis was supportive of the group’s efforts to create and study solutions for this state’s opioid epidemic.  The positive impact that having six satellite university campuses coming into Huerfano County’s rural economy was also discussed.
HEOE is currently seeking medical professionals including physicians, PhDs, and laboratory scientists who are interested in helping end the opioid epidemic. Anyone interested in volunteering, please reach out to CEO Kimberly Lincoln at

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