Axis Health System CEO Bern Heath, who will retire in January, will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Shelly Burke effective Jan. 4.
Heath, who has a doctoral degree, has served as CEO for more than 19 years, overseeing the organization’s growth and transformation from a health center to a health system that combines primary care, mental health, substance use treatment and oral health in one setting, Axis said in a news release.
Heath gave notice of his planned retirement in August 2018 and will step down Jan. 3. He will be replaced by Shelly Burke effective Jan. 4. Burke has worked for Axis for 19 years, the past seven as chief operating officer.
“Shelly’s skills are well known and have been apparent throughout her tenure,” said John Albright, president of the Axis board. “Appointing her to the CEO role was not a hard decision, and Axis will not miss a beat in the transition.”
Under Heath’s leadership, the news release said, Axis returned an inpatient, psychiatric resource to the region with the construction of a state-licensed acute treatment unit. Axis also said it established the third crisis intervention team, partnering with law enforcement agencies, and the first in the rural U.S. Other accomplishments include the construction of three clinical facilities, the expansion of crisis services and the establishment of AHS as both a State-designated Community Mental Health Center and a federally designated primary care Community Health Center – the only such combined designation in Colorado.
Heath led the merger of AHS with Frontier Community Health Clinic in Dove Creek, which is expected to be finalized in spring. Over his tenure, Axis has increased its staff from 50 employees to 275, and the number of its patients from 1,400 to more than 12,000.
Axis Health System provides health care in Montezuma, Dolores, La Plata, San Juan and Archuleta counties. It has seven locations in Southwest Colorado and offers primary, behavioral and oral health care, and crisis response and stabilization.