Oyen Hoffman breathed a big sigh of relief in February. Colorado health officials chose him and thirty-two other providers statewide to participate in a loan repayment program.

“It’s a life-changer in a way,” Hoffman said after the announcement came out. “I had no idea the impact that it would have on my life.”
Hoffman is a Licensed Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist working at the MFHC Rifle clinic. A combination of funds will now cover $50,000 of his student loans. The award comes as Hoffman is trying a new way to tackle his mounting debt, which has been increasing each month. He was aware he might qualify for the state repayment plan as a MFHC employee, but knew it wasn’t guarantee, especially since Mountain Family allows only one employee to apply each year.
Called the Colorado Health Service Corps, the program is designed to help rural therapists, dentists, physicians, nurses, and other providers. Funding comes from the state of Colorado, the Colorado Health Foundation, and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
Qualifying for that sizable chunk of money is another dramatic turn in Hoffman’s personal story. Originally from southern California, he started out in construction, doing kitchen remodels. He struggled with legal problems and self-esteem. After seeing a therapist, he had an “aha” moment.
“I was walking through the grocery store one day, and I passed a grumpy old man in the produce department,” Hoffman recalled in February. “And then I walked by another old guy, and he was just as happy as he could be.” Hoffman realized he wanted to be the happier of the two, and decided then and there to go to college and become a drug and alcohol counselor.
Fast-forward sixteen years, and Hoffman has been at the Rifle clinic for a year. He’s acutely aware that many of his patients are able to see him only because Mountain Family accepts fees on a sliding scale, Medicaid, and other options for making health care more affordable. “They’re very appreciative of it,” Hoffman said, “and it’s a population that I want to make sure has really good customer service.”
The award also comes as Hoffman juggles few side projects: he’s writing a family guidebook on what to do when a loved one has a substance abuse problem. And Hoffman recently started another project, exploring how to create and maintain a healthy inner dialogue. Hoffman is already a published author, though in a more playful genre. Last year he released Bone Tired, a relaxation story he often tells his daughter and child patients, which features a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
When not working or writing, Hoffmann is thankful for the supportive, inspiring team of his coworkers at the Rifle clinic. He also gardens at his dream home in New Castle.
Previous MFHC participants in the Colorado Health Service Corps are Dr. Anneliese Heckert and Nurse Practitioner Leslie Dawdy.
MFHC PROVIDER CHOSEN FOR LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM was last modified: March 7th, 2017 by Lindsey Lewis