Axis Health System CEO retiring, replacement named


By Karla Sluis

Special to The SUN

The Board of Directors of Axis Health System (AHS) announces the retirement of its chief executive officer, Bern Heath, Ph.D.

Heath has served as CEO for more than 19 years. Over that tenure, he has overseen tremendous growth of the organization and the transformation from a traditional community mental health center to a health system that brings together primary care, mental health, substance use treatment and oral health in one setting.

Under his leadership, AHS returned an inpatient, psychiatric resource to the region with the construction and operation of the first state-licensed acute treatment unit. Axis also established the third crisis intervention team (law enforcement partnership) in the state and the very first in the nation in a rural/frontier setting.

Other accomplishments include the construction of three clinical facilities and the expansion of crisis services.

While Heath will step down on Jan. 3, 2020, he provided initial notice of his planned retirement in August of 2018, allowing the board time to determine a successor.

It is with excitement that the Board of Directors of AHS announces the appointment of Shelly Burke as the new CEO, effective Jan. 4, 2020. Burke has also been with Axis for 19 years. For the past seven years, she has served as chief operating officer.

“Shelly’s skills are well known and have been apparent throughout her tenure. Appointing her to the CEO role was not a hard decision and Axis will not miss a beat in the transition,” said John Albright, president of the AHS Board of Directors.

AHS has seven locations in southwest Colorado and offers primary, behavioral and oral health care, and crisis response and stabilization.