CHA History

July 1921

The first meeting to discuss the interest in organizing a Colorado state hospital association took place on July 26, 1921 at the Shirley-Savoy Hotel in Denver. Dr. R.W. Corwin, superintendent of Minnequa Hospital in Pueblo, was elected temporary chairman and Pliny Clark, of Presbyterian Hospital in Denver, was chosen as temporary secretary. “Each member present spoke of the desirability of organizing a state hospital association,” read minutes taken at the meeting. “There was not word of dissent, every one agreeing that the association should be formed as soon as possible, believing it could do much for the hospitals of the State.”

September 1921

The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) was created at its first general meeting on Sept. 1, 1921, when the first officers of the Association were elected. Clark was elected as executive secretary, and was immediately authorized to publish the constitution and bylaws and file for incorporation. The first committees organized were Membership, Auditing, Legislation, Constitution and Rules, Convention, and School of Nurses. (It wasn’t until 1949 that someone discovered the articles of incorporation for the Association had never been filed with the Colorado Secretary of State. This was corrected in early 1950.)


In 1953, CHA announced the formation of a regional hospital council in the northeastern area of the state, which later led to similar regional councils in other parts of Colorado. The same year, Richard MacLeish was employed as executive secretary on a part-time basis—the first salaried position in CHA history. His office was at the Colorado Department of Health.


In 1957, the CHA Board of Trustees approved the hiring of a full-time secretary and support staff, as well as renting office space for the exclusive use of the Association. The first Association office was located at 333 West Colfax Avenue in Denver, and on Oct. 30, 1957, MacLeish was appointed full-time executive secretary. As staff grew to more than a dozen employees over the next two decades, CHA would relocate to different, larger offices in Denver every five or so years.


The CHA leadership position has also undergone changes. The original title of executive secretary was changed to executive director in July 1971. In September 1972, the title was changed to president, at which time the incumbent also became a member of the Board of Trustees.


By 1981, staff size had increased to 26 employees. In June 1984, CHA president and chief executive officer Arvid Brekke resigned after 12 years of leadership. Following Brekke’s resignation, the CHA Board of Trustees appointed Larry Wall as CHA president and chief executive officer.


In April 1994, CHA purchased Hospital Insurance Trust Services, Inc., which has since been renamed CHA Shared Services and operates as a for-profit subsidiary offering insurance, financial and consulting services. CHA offices were moved to the current location at 7335 East Orchard Road in Greenwood Village on Jan. 1, 1999 to accommodate for expected staff growth in the coming years.


In February of 2006, Wall resigned after 15 years of CHA leadership. The CHA Board of Trustees appointed Steven Summer as President and Chief Executive Officer in the fall of 2006. Summer had most recently served as president and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association for 13 years, among several roles in his four-decade career in health care. After 13 years of service, Summer retired as President and CEO in December of 2019.


Effective January 2020, the CHA Board of Trustees appointed Chris Tholen as President and CEO. Tholen had most previously served as the Execute Vice President of CHA. 

In March 2020, the first Sars-CoV-2 case was identified in Colorado, starting the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. Colorado hospitals and health systems responded to the crisis, providing testing, treatment, and vaccines for millions of Coloradans. 


CHA celebrates its 100th anniversary! A century of continued growth has brought CHA membership to more than 100 Colorado hospitals and health systems currently further –reinforcing the Association as the leading voice of the Colorado hospital community.