Center for Addiction Medicine

2022 Overdose Awareness Day at Denver Health.

The Center for Addiction Medicine at Denver Health

At Denver Health’s Center for Addiction Medicine every door is an opportunity. Doors lead to new beginnings. Doors open to hope. At the Center for Addiction Medicine, there are no wrong doors. The center brings Denver Health’s broad range of addiction programs and medical resources into a single place, providing comprehensive treatment options, mindful of the stigma of substance use.

The Center for Addiction Medicine is a new Denver Health initiative dedicated to combating the damage being done to our community by the disease of addiction. In 2018, more than 1,100 people died of drug overdose in Colorado. Behind every statistic is a person: a unique individual with a family and a community.

Denver Health is on the frontline of this public health crisis. From first responders and social workers to emergency and primary care providers, our system-wide continuum of care ensures patients are stabilized and successfully treated at the right level of integrated physical and behavioral health care. The Center for Addiction Medicine is bringing these dedicated professionals together in an unprecedented effort to try to prevent more deaths and increase long-term recovery.

Goals, Vision and Guiding Principles

The goal of the Center for Addiction Medicine is to coordinate the essential health services for persons with substance abuse disorders. The vision is to be a compassionate model for the prevention and treatment of substance misuse, to transform lives and to educate all. 

Center for Addiction Medicine 2021 Annual Report Thumbnail
To learn more about the Center for Addiction Medicine’s recent accomplishments, please see our 2021 Annual Report.

Strategic Goals

The Center for Addiction Medicine has five-year strategic goals:

  • Inclusive and Compassionate Care: Ensure inclusive and compassionate care where all health care professionals treat patients with substance use disorders with respect and dignity, and improve patient outcomes.
  • Full Continuum of Care: Strengthen the continuum of care for people with substance use disorders throughout the Denver Health system and beyond. Ensuring that patients receive the right level of care for their individual needs.
  • Knowledge Management: Establish a comprehensive data interface to support strategic, operational, and managerial decisions, and research and evaluation. 
  • Fiscal Growth and Financial Partnership: Enhance internal and external revenue streams to ensure quality services are accessible far into the future. 
  • Community Voice: Partner with organized groups of community members with lived experience to facilitate integration of their expertise into the planning and implementation of CAM initiatives.

CAM Goals aug 2021 600px

Governing Structure

A governance structure has been established to achieve the strategic goals of the Center for Addiction Medicine, as well as to provide guidance and accountability. The Governing Council supports coordination of efforts across Denver Health’s array of care sites and with services in the community. Members include representatives from the executive leadership team and champions from each department across the system.

CAM governance structure aug 2021 600px
See videos about a person in recovery now helping others and how to administer NARCAN in the Center for Addiction Medicine's YouTube playlist.

Contact Us

  • To access services provided by the  Center for Addiction Medicine, please call Outpatient Behavioral Health Services at 303-602-4851.
  • For screening and referrals to services, please call the Community Line at 303-436-5711.
    • This grant-funded program offers people in the community a call line staffed by experienced addiction experts who can screen for substance use, provide referrals, and point people in the right direction for accessible opioid ttoreatment and non-opioid treatment options.
  • For professional technical assistance or information on implementation of the Center for Addiction Medicine, please email
  • For all other Denver Health services, please call 303-436-6000.

Center for Addiction Medicine Staff

Center for Addiction Medicine Leaders

  • Dr. Chris Thurstone – CAM Executive Sponsor
  • Kris Gaw – CAM Executive Sponsor
  • Dr. Judy Shlay – CAM  Medical Director
  • Brooke Bender – CAM Administrative Director
  • Alia Palacio – CAM Administrative Support
  • Dr. Julie Taub – CAM Continuum of Care Senior Leader
  • Dr. Josh Blum – CAM Continuum of Care Senior Leader
  • Matthew Hoag – CAM Continuum of Care Co-Lead
  • Michelle Gaffaney – CAM Continuum of Care Co-Lead
  • Maria Gonsales Schimpf – CAM Inclusive & Compassionate Care Co-Lead
  • Amanda Klahr– CAM Inclusive & Compassionate Care Co-Lead
  • Sarah Belstock – CAM Community Voice Lead
  • Alia Al-Tayyib – CAM Knowledge Management Research Lead
  • Dean McEwen – CAM Knowledge Management Senior Leader 
  • Kenneth Scott – CAM Knowledge Management Evaluation Lead 
  • Sharon Jeffers – CAM Finance Support
  • April Valdez Villa  – CAM Communications Support
  • Lindsay Beaudrey – CAM Lean Support 
  • Jacqueline Zheleznyak – CAM Legislative Support

Link to Organization Structure PDF

Center for Addiction Annual Reports

2021 Annual Report

2020 Annual Report

2019 Annual Report