Health Center News

A Healer and Advocate in Colorado

licona 2It is unfortunate if you have lived on this planet without meeting  Virgilio Licona, MD.  Those of us who have been in the same room with Dr. Licona, as a patient, colleague, or audience to one of his thoughtful speeches about healthcare, well, we just feel grateful to have stood near his shadow.  Dr. Licona has made the world a better place, and continues to do so.  But we write about him today because we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of health centers, and this month are focusing our efforts on the people who have helped the movement and mission thrive.  One of those people is Dr. Licona, who has been practicing medicine for more than 40 years.

Dr. Licona has been a Vice President of Medical Services at Salud Family Health Centers, in Fort Lupton, CO, since 2000.  (Salud is an extensive primary health care delivery system with eleven community, migrant, children, and women’s health clinics in northeastern and north-central Colorado). He is without doubt a national leader in providing culturally appropriate, quality care to special populations.   He doesn’t just provide care as a doctor.  Rather, he takes the time to understand the intricacies of health policy at the local, state, and national level because doing so helped arm his efforts as a passionate advocate on behalf of the medically underserved.

“I first met Dr. Licona at a NACHC grants training in Biloxi, Mississippi. I was working at another health center at the time and recall being blown away by his passion and knowledge,” says Jennifer Morse, Vice President of Development for Salud.   “Years later, I had the good fortune to join Salud and to work WITH the very rockstar every day. His commitment to our patients and communities is inspiring and unwavering. He is an incredible colleague, always encouraging you to grow, learn and contribute your best, as our patients, mission and history as a health center demands it of us!”

He served three-year terms on the National Advisory Council of the National Health Service Corps and the National Rural Health Advisory Committee, and was the immediate past president of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians.  Dr. Licona used his leadership positions as a bully pulpit to push for better access and better quality of care for those who need it most.  And when he pushed people listened to his message not because he was right, but because he had the grace and humor to win over even the staunchest opposition.  Dr. Licona was  also the recipient of the Colorado Minority Health Forum’s “Outstanding Contributor to Minority Health Care in Colorado for 2000,” and it’s worth noting that the award is now called the “Dr. Virgilio Licona Award” because he cast the mold.

For these reasons and many more Dr. Licona is also a recipient of this year’s Samuel U. Rogers award, which will be presented at the NACHC Community Health  Institute and EXPO next month.   The award was established in 1977 in honor of the late Dr. Samuel U. Rodgers, a health care provider, community activist, and national leader in health and civil rights, and is presented to a distinguished primary care clinician who exemplifies excellence in clinical practice and leadership at the local, state, or national level.

If you have someone working at your health center who is as a cool as Dr. Licona tell us about him or her, and we’ll feature them on this blog.





  1. I’ve known Virgilio since I met him in 1998 while working for the AAFP and he was a member of the AAFP Legislative Policy Committee. For years, he has spoken up for health care access and quality for everyone, regardless of income, location, or background, and done so with grace, humor, and persistence. This planet is indeed a better place because of Virgilio.

  2. Dr. Licona is such an amazing person and Doctor. He inspires greatness from all who who have had the pleasure to work with him. Thank you for all of your years of service. I am proud to say I have worked warmth you! Hugs to my “favorite”!

  3. I’ve Known Dr. Licona since 1991. He is a very caring person. He took very good care of his patient and treated each and everyone of them as he would his own family. He was always willing to teach and educate his staff. I worked very close with him over the years and I learned so much from him. He helped me to be the best Medical Assistant I could be. Thank you Dr. Licona ( With Lots of Love)

  4. Tribute in Honor of Virgilio Licona M.D.
    We will spend special time with Dr. Licona to honor him for giving so much of his time and effort to his community, his profession, his family and friends, the state and the nation.
    Tuesday, March 29, 2016 – Noon – at the Riverdale Golf Course Club House* –
    13300 Riverdale Road – Brighton, CO 80602 Phone: 303-659-4700
    * Luncheon tickets are $27 per individual and can be purchased from Estevan Flores (303 641-9186), Tillman Farley (303 877-2075) and Chuck Tafoya (303 594-6366. Please call as soon as possible to reserve your ticket.

  5. Dr Virgilio is the reason I am committed to working at Salud. He asked me to do one thing and be an example to all the young people I work with. I had the best interview with him upon getting hired, learning of his history throughout the Chicando Movement and how his health profession education as a Physician Assistant led him right into becoming a Doctor. By having a fuller understanding of his background and what he was passionate about helped me to say yes and commit to giving Salud my best.

Comments are closed.