CORHIO Board Member Wins Behavioral Health Leadership Award

Date: April 8th, 2015Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: CORHIO Network, CORHIO Governance & Leadership, Behavioral Health


As he nears retirement after a successful 40-year career, George DelGrosso is honored with a prestigious achievement award. He tells CORHIO what he’s seen – and what he still hopes to see – in behavioral health care.

George DelGrosso, long-time CORHIO Board Member and executive director of Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, is the recipient for a national visionary leadership award by the National Council for Behavioral Health. The award celebrates George's important work as an advocate for behavioral health care, including the Mental Health First Aid program to fight the stigma associated with mental illness and addictions in Colorado.

The National Council Awards of Excellence honor the achievements of individuals with mental illnesses and addictions, the clinicians and treatment teams that care for them, the advocates and leaders who tell their stories to educate and encourage community support, and the organizations that promote excellence and build healthy communities. Specifically, George’s recognition is within the Impact Awards, in the Visionary Leadership category. The award ceremony will be April 21, 2015, in Orlando.

CORHIO caught up with DelGrosso to discuss his success and ask his thoughts on the future of behavioral health care in Colorado.

CORHIO: What significant changes/shifts have you seen in your career in behavioral health?

“I have been in the field for almost 40 years and the changes in this area of healthcare has been immense. I started out as a psychotherapist and was trained a Freudian, so outpatient treatment was long-term. We found out that shorter term focused treatment was just as effective for most conditions. Marriage and family therapy has also proven to be very effective to help people who are struggling. The development of more effective medications, and enhancement of community-based services reduces the need for institutional and hospital-based care. Today the integration of behavioral health with physical health and the use of technology to provide greater access to care promises to continue to revolutionize how behavioral health care is delivered.”

CORHIO: What would you like to see change still in Colorado’s behavioral health care system or the health care system in general?

“We have started the journey to stop the separation of primary health care and behavioral health in favor of treating the whole person. My hope is that these efforts in conjunction with payment and policy changes will continue to keep the momentum moving forward. It is important to also keep the emphasis and fund more prevention, early intervention, and public health services.”

CORHIO: What hopes do you have for the State Innovation Model project?

“The SIM grant can be a great incubator to enhance Colorado's efforts to have integrated care become the norm. I really like how the grant tries to address several policy, payment, and infrastructure changes that need to happen so integration of care can truly happen. I am particularly happy about the bi-directional part of the grant that will fund integrated health homes that will be in behavioral health settings. There are many people who have severe mental health and substance use disorder problems that will tend to engage more in their physical health if it is provided in a behavioral health setting.”

CORHIO: What was your motivation for getting involved with the state’s health information exchange and to join the Board of CORHIO?

“In order to improve health outcomes, reduce cost, integrate care, and in general reduce fragmentation in the delivery of care, providers and patients need real-time access to health information. CORHIO offered me the opportunity to share a point of view of how and why behavioral health information needs to be considered as information exchange is developed and implemented. The leadership and staff of CORHIO and the board of directors are a group of very dedicated and intelligent people. It has been a great place for me to learn many things and contribute to the success of this important organization.”

CORHIO: I understand you’re retiring this summer, what’s next for you?

“Yes, after almost 40 years in behavioral health, it’s time for me to let all of the wonderful people I have been working with take the reins and keep fighting the good fight. I really want to take more time to enjoy my family, take pictures, and fly fish. It has been very rewarding to do some consulting with policy makers and health leaders in different parts of the country to help them move their health reform efforts forward. There are also opportunities emerging for me to keep doing some consulting on a limited basis.”