Health plan provider opens third building

Rocky Mountain Health Plans on Tuesday opened its third building, dubbed the Ward Building, in recognition of one of its founders.

Dr. Bruce Ward, who headed the radiology unit at St. Mary’s Hospital for 30 years, was a founding physician member of what is now known as Rocky Mountain Health Plans.

Officials at Rocky Mountain Health Plans decided to name the building for Ward, who died in 2001, because of his role in leading it toward the collaborative approach it now is recognized for today, company President and Chief Executive Officer Steve ErkenBrack said during a reception Tuesday marking the opening of the building at 2779 Crossroads Blvd.

The Ward Building will house the members sale center and be the “front door” for customers considering joining the health plan, ErkenBrack said.

Ward’s commitment to centering service around patients was emblematic of the approach taken by Rocky Mountain Health Plans, ErkenBrack said.

As a board member of the organization for 20 years, six of them in two separate terms as board president, Ward played roles not only in establishing the organization, but in preserving it, said Mike Weber, the founding executive director.

Ward “was a strategic leader” who understood the challenges for the organization, leading it first to fend off purchase by a for-profit organization, Weber said.

“It was the only way we could retain our values,” said Dr. Denny Hartshorn, a physician member.

Ward originally opposed expanding beyond Mesa County, but he came to understand Rocky Mountain Health Plans had to grow to survive, and he led that effort, Weber said.

Ward’s “head and heart were always in the right place,” said Bob Wilson, for whom another Rocky Mountain Health Plans building is named.

Since the organization was founded in 1973, tens of thousands of Medicaid recipients in the Grand Valley would not have received the full range of medical care they did “if not for guys like Bruce,” Wilson said.

Ward’s wife, Rose, his children, Bruce, Karen and Mimi, and his six grandchildren attended the reception.


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