Back in 2001, geriatricians Donald Murphy, MD, and Michael Wasserman, MD, started a Medicare-only primary care geriatric practice. People told them they were crazy – there was no way their business model could possibly succeed. But they knew better. Trusting their instincts and weathering plenty of storms (including the “mother of all audits” by CMS), they created a successful practice focused on caring exclusively for older adults at six clinics and literally hundreds of facilities throughout the Front Range of Colorado.

As the practice grew, folks from remote locations across the state would reach out for advice and assistance. Drs. Murphy and Wasserman realized it would be a great idea to create an educational curriculum to share the things they had learned with other primary care providers who take care of seniors, such as:

  • Billing courageously. Knowing and abiding by the letter of the law, mindful of not overcoding yet not undercoding out of fear of an audit.
  • Implementing a team-based approach to care. Using a combination of doctors with nurse practitioners and physician assistants; ensuring that facility nursing staff, as well as family members and, of course the patients themselves, see themselves as important members of the team.
  • Feeling confident with the clinical aspects of geriatric medicine. 
  • Relying on existing community resources, such as the Alzheimer’s Association. 
  • Implementing effective time management, scheduling, and practice management techniques.

In 2008, Murphy and Wasserman partnered with Program Coordinator, Holly LeMaster and the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter; they took their concept to the Colorado Health Foundation as a grant proposal. A pilot program covering three underserved areas of the state was enthusiastically funded and well-received by participating providers who were grateful to receive the valuable information and resources offered by M.E.S.A. We provided face-to-face workshops, web-based resources, and the first edition of the M.E.S.A. Clinical Pearls & Protocols to participants at no cost to them.

In 2011, the Colorado Health Foundation awarded a second grant to cover the entire state of Colorado with M.E.S.A. education. This time, Caring for Colorado and the Kaiser Foundation jumped in with supplemental grant funding. We endeavored to reach out to every single primary care provider in the state. Our live workshops were hosted by hospitals, physician groups, medical societies and other organizations. We broadcast monthly deep-dive webinars on topics related to the curriculum (still archived here on the website), we conducted one-on-one “lunch and learn” workshops for many practices, and published the second edition of the Pearls & Protocols, authored by geriatrician, Gregory Gahm, MD, and Dr. Murphy. Funding for this phase of the project took us through the spring of 2013 at which time M.E.S.A. took a brief hiatus.

Today, the Colorado M.E.S.A. Initiative is sponsored by Rocky Mountain Senior Care. Thanks to the ongoing support of Dr. Murphy, Dr. Elane Shirar, and RMSC, we are delighted to be able to continue providing M.E.S.A. educational materials and resources for your use.

Read more about our team:

Donald Murphy, MD, MESA Founder and Faculty Member

Gregory Gahm, MD, Faculty Member and Author of Pearls & Protocols

Elane Shirar, MD, Faculty Member

Holly LeMaster, Program Coordinator