Hernandez Receives Colorado Family Physician of the Year

April 2, 2015

Elias Hernandez, board certified family medicine physician on staff at Colorado Plains Medical Center and Medical Director at the Fort Morgan Salud Clinic, was recently awarded the Colorado Family Physician of the Year honor thru the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians.

“Dr. Hernandez is passionate about caring for his patients, educating future family physicians, and improving his community.  His energy is boundless and his efforts are fruitful,” remarks fellow medical colleague, Dr. Shaun Thompson. 

Thompson nominated Hernandez for the prestigious honor, which has recognized Colorado primary care doctors for several decades for their involvement in community affairs and activities that enhance the quality of the community as well as their compassionate, comprehensive care on a continuing basis.  A physician’s ability to serve as a role model to other health professionals and medical students and strong communication skills are also additional criteria considered for bestowing the award.

Hernandez was raised in Mexico where he obtained his medical degree from Universidad de Montemorelos Escuela de Medicina, in Monte Morelos, N.L., Mexico.  His family practice residency was performed at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, Texas. 

“I remember as a young boy following my father on house calls to tend to the ill.  The ability to help so many different people, newborns, pregnant women, older adults, with their care, really had a profound effect on me.  When it came time for me to focus my training, I knew that family medicine would allow me to serve the entire community,” states Hernandez.

His strong leadership skills were recognized early on, and Hernandez served as Chief Resident during his third year of residency.  He also earned the designation of Texas Primary Care Resident during this time by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Care Residency Advisory Committee.

He and his wife, Nohemi, moved to Fort Morgan in 2003 where he started practicing at the Salud Clinic.

“After I finished training, we interviewed in five different places and, although Fort Morgan was our last visit, it proved to be the best fit for Nohemi and me.  Salud was a community health center that allowed me to practice the full spectrum of family medicine.  The hospital was also very supportive of the medical community, and we found a wonderful church family.  We fell in love with Fort Morgan,” adds Hernandez.  “We decided to stay and raise a family here.  Our two children were born at CPMC.”

In addition to his busy full-time practice at Salud, Hernandez also provides care in Colorado Plains Medical Center’s emergency room where he routinely works several monthly shifts.

“I’m always impressed by the depth of knowledge he (Dr. Hernandez) has of his patients and their lives.  He understands them and where they come from and what their struggles are.  He sees them in the clinic, in the hospital, at church, and out in the community,” adds Thompson.

It is not unusual, then, to find out that one of Hernandez’s interests is mission work.  In 2010, he was one of several area health care providers who responded to the Haiti earthquake disaster.

Hernandez also enjoys teaching medical students thru his relationship with the University of Colorado School of Medicine where he serves as faculty.  He will soon be expanding this role by embarking on a new directorship for a rural medicine training track residency program he is actively involved in developing for the Northeast Colorado area.

He enjoys mountain biking and most other kind of sports and encourages local children to often play soccer at his house on the weekends.

Hernandez is the first and only doctor from Morgan County to have been chosen to receive the Colorado Family Physician of the Year award.

“My wife is so supportive of my practice, and I can count on her to be my main help and pillar of strength.  I also want to express my gratitude to the entire Salud staff and the medical staff at Colorado Plains Medical Center for allowing me to be the best physician I can be,” states Hernandez. 

According to the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP), approximately one in four of all United States physician office visits are made to family medicine physicians, which equates to 228 million office visits each year.  Family medicine physicians are the primary care providers for the majority of Coloradans and comprise 57 percent of all primary care physicians in the state.  They care for nearly 50 percent of Colorado’s children and for a majority of Colorado Medicaid clients.

One of the best reasons of choosing to specialize in family medicine is the ability to develop bonds with the family and patient over many illnesses and through varied interactions maintains the CAFP. 

“Dr. Hernandez has epitomized this during his tenure in the Morgan County community and is a deserving recipient of the award,” states Dr. Jacques LeBlanc, Chief of Staff at Colorado Plains Medical Center.   “We certainly appreciate his dedication and care of our patients.”