Michelle Haas, M.D., faculty member at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, is the recipient of the 2021 Chase Faculty Community Service Award, which recognizes her passionate work providing access to health care to underserved communities, and for her education in infectious diseases.
An assistant professor of medicine at the CU School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases since 2012, Haas has for many years provided pro bono exams for people seeking asylum, and recently helped launch a program providing essential medical and social support resources to families and communities most affected by COVID-19.
The Chase Faculty Community Service Award is presented annually to a full-time CU faculty member who, in addition to his or her university responsibilities, has, pro bono, provided exceptional educational, humanitarian, civic or other service in the community. An advisory council submits a recommendation to CU President Mark Kennedy, who bestows the honor, which includes a $10,000 grant sponsored by an endowment from JPMorgan Chase through the CU Foundation.
Haas is nationally recognized for her expertise in managing people with tuberculosis (TB). She is the associate director of the Denver Metro Tuberculosis Program, where she first conducted exams after hours; later, the effort expanded to include the ICE Detention Center in Aurora. In working with asylum seekers and detainees, Haas also collaborates with the Rocky Mountain Immigration Advocacy Network, which provides legal services to people in civil immigration detention, as well as other immigration attorneys in the metro area.
Working with physician leaders at Denver Health, Haas supported the development of the Denver Health Human Rights Clinic, which provides forensic exams for individuals seeking asylum. Last year, Haas led the implementation of the COVID-19 Enhanced Patient Support Program. Besides aiding those most affected by COVID-19, the program also empowers people with trusted health information through partnerships with community-based organizations.
“When I was rounding in the hospital seeing patients with COVID-19 in late March of 2020, I noticed immediately that patients faced many of the social challenges that my patients with TB faced,” Haas said. “With our TB patients we can provide resources for nutrition, short-term financial relief to stabilize housing, and free medical care. For patients with COVID-19, those services were out of reach, so patients were delaying care and/or returning to work while ill.”
While a member of the CU Anschutz community, Haas simultaneously served as an adjunct assistant professor of medicine for the University of Pennsylvania Perelman (2010-2016) and as a lecturer of medicine for the University of Botswana (2010-2014). After living and working in Botswana and helping to start quality-improvement programs, which boosted the delivery of health care, Haas returned to Colorado and quickly began integrating herself into the community.
She has mentored multiple residents and fellows in quality-improvement projects to elevate care for people diagnosed with tuberculosis, including evaluating best practices for screening and treating latent TB infection. In 2015, Haas received the Golden Apple ID Division Teaching Award.
Haas is lauded by colleagues and supervisors for her passion and commitment to medical and social justice. Not content with simply being committed, she has worked tirelessly to create positive change for individuals and communities.
“Dr. Haas has a long track record of compassionate community service. In the midst of a pandemic, she saw opportunity to make an even greater contribution to those most in need,” said Joseph Coleman, Chase’s Business Banking Market Manager in Colorado. “With her inspired teaching and unflagging devotion to improving health care for so many, she is a very deserving honoree for this year’s Chase Faculty Community Service Award.”
Haas expressed tremendous gratitude to her colleagues and community partners for the Chase Faculty Community Service Award. She plans to donate all of her award to the Denver Public Health Youth Health division to specifically support racial equity initiatives directed by the Youth Advisory Team.
The Chase Faculty Community Service Award – established in 1991 with a $100,000 donation – is funded annually by an endowment from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation through the CU Foundation. The endowment provides an annual award of $10,000 to a full-time faculty member at the University of Colorado who has rendered exceptional service in his or her community.