Western CO Area Health Education Center: History

Established in 1978

Western Colorado Area Health Education Center is one of six Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) in Colorado. The AHEC's provide important services to the rural healthcare community. Western Colorado AHEC (WCAHEC), established in 1978, provides services to thirteen counties on Colorado's Western Slope. WCAHEC's mission is to promote healthier communities through education and other health care quality improvement related services. WCAHEC provides personal healthcare learning experiences for consumers and professional learning experiences for healthcare providers.


WCAHEC is committed to improving the quality and distribution of healthcare providers throughout its region in partnership with institutions of higher learning and elementary, middle and secondary schools throughout our communities. In order to accomplish its goals, WCAHEC:

  • Provides clinical training opportunities for health professions students in rural communities;
  • Facilitates the provision of health education programs within its thirteen counties;
  • Offers continuing education for health professionals in remote areas - either on-site or through interactive videoconferencing;
  • Offers youth programs aimed at increasing interest and awareness in health professions training;
  • Offers on-line training courses and interactive video conferences in conjunction with University of Colorado schools;
  • Develops and provides certification courses in a variety of health care fields;
  • Collaborates with a wide array of community organizations to meet the needs of our regions’ health.WCAHEC is a non-profit, community-based organization governed by a regional board of directors who are committed to developing long-term strategies to address health related concerns within their communities. If you are interested in board membership, you may contact the Executive Director.


Western CO AHEC Region 
Western Colorado AHEC strives to improve the supply, distribution, diversity and quality of the health workforce and to ultimately improve access to health care in underserved areas. The Western Colorado AHEC program emphasizes community-based training through community/academic partnerships. 

Western CO AHEC Demographics

  • The thirteen Western Colorado AHEC counties constitute the "Northwest" corner of the state and cover approximately 29,000 square miles;

  • On the east, the area includes Gunnison, Pitkin, Eagle, Summit, Grand and Jackson counties reaching north to the Wyoming border, west across Routt and Moffat counties to the Utah border, continuing south through Rio Blanco, Garfield, Mesa and Montrose counties including Delta county;

  • Most of the WCAHEC area includes the northern and central mountainous region of Colorado west of the Continental Divide;

  • Of the nine "frontier" counties in the WCAHEC region (counties of fewer than six people per square mile), there is no primary care physician in Jackson county;

  • There are approximately twelve hospitals in the Western Colorado AHEC region;

  • Of thirteen counties in our region; Nine counties are classified as whole/part HPSA (Health Professional Shortage Area) counties.  Eight counties are classified as whole/part MUA (Medically Underserved Area) counties.



Western CO AHEC serves 13 counties on Colorado's Western Slope:


Delta County                                   Delta Area Chamber of Commerce                                    Delta Memorial Hospital
Eagle County                                  Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau                          Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce
Garfield County                              Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association                Valley View HospitalGrand River Hospital
Grand County                                 Grand County Colorado Tourism Board                              Grand County Chamber
Gunnison County                            Gunnison Country Chamber of Commerce                        Gunnison Valley Hospital
Jackson County                              The Colorado Directory                                                       Walden Chamber
Mesa County                                  Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce                              Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau
Moffat County                                 Craig Chamber of Commerce                                              Craig Memorial Hospital
Montrose County                            Montrose Visitor and Convention Bureau                            Montrose Memorial Hospital
Pitkin County                                  Aspen Chamber Resort Association                                    Aspen Valley Hospital
Rio Blanco County                         Rangely Chamber of Commerce                                          Rangely District Hospital
Routt County                                  Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association                Routt County
Summit County                              Summit County Chamber of Commerce                               Summit and Granby Medical Centers



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