September 1, 2021 – The Boards of Directors for The Center for Mental Health (The Center) and Axis Health System (Axis) are pleased to announce the planned merger of the two organizations taking place over the next nine months. The combined organization will retain the Axis Health System name and be the first merger of two community mental health centers in Colorado. Mergers like this are designed to lead to greater impact, better organizational stability, and enhanced continuums of care. The CEOs of the two organizations, Shelly Burke of Axis and Shelly J. Spalding of The Center, along with their respective Boards of Directors, have worked diligently over the past year to evaluate how the two organizations could come together to better serve Southwest Colorado, improving and offering better access to care.

“Our discussions were thoughtful, carefully considered, and recognize that both organizations are important healthcare resources for our respective communities. The decision is a result of our shared view that the best healthcare delivery will require increased scale, enhanced administrative capacity, and better provider coverage capacity. The new organization will be an even better resource for our communities and allow us to innovate and evolve as we continue to respond to emerging healthcare needs,” said Shelly Burke, CEO, Axis Health System.

Pending any applicable federal and state noticing or approvals expected later this winter, The Center for Mental Health and Axis Health System will become one organization. There will be no disruption in services for either organization in this process, and both organizations continue to accept new patients.

With behavioral health needs on the rise partly due to the pandemic, the merged organization can expand program reach, create economies of scale, and enhance patient care. It will also reduce the competition for limited resources in small communities and competition for state and federal funds while also creating increased capacity to offer a wider variety of services to patients with better coverage.

“As community healthcare providers, we must grow in sustainable ways to ensure we are preserving and advancing high-quality care in our communities in an increasingly complicated healthcare industry. We believe that bringing our two organizations together will provide long-term benefits to the patients and our communities.  We identified the best course of action for community-based care to continue to thrive,” said Shelly J. Spalding, CEO of The Center for Mental Health.

The Center is the Community Mental Health Center for Delta, Gunnison, Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray, and Hinsdale Counties. Axis is the only Community Mental Health Center and Community Health Center in Colorado, with nine locations across Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties.  Over the last 30+ years, The Center and Axis have partnered on various service contracts and care delivery projects resulting in a shared history to build on for the future.

The combined organization will have approximately 460 employees and provide services to approximately 19,000 patients across the larger region. The respective Board of Directors for The Center and Axis will continue to operate in parallel (but in partnership) until the merger is complete in the spring, at which time the boards will be merged.

Shelly J. Spalding will be the President, and Shelly Burke will be the CEO of the new Axis Health System. To learn more about The Center, visit To learn more about Axis Health System, visit