The director of Pitkin County’s new Public Health Department has been named. After a rigorous, three-month-long search and interview process, Delta County Public Health Director Karen Koenemann has accepted the position. Koenemann will build the department from the ground up, focusing on the social determinants of health, and has said she will draw from her experience in Delta County, as well as from her 5-year role as Eagle County Healthy Communities Division Manager.
“In addition to the leadership and management skill set I bring to this position, I have the understanding and experience of living in a rural resort region and the strengths of, and challenges facing Pitkin County,” Koenemann said.
In 2018, Pitkin County’s Environmental Health Department will be merged into the Public Health department. In Delta County Koenemann also oversaw environmental health programs including on-site wastewater treatment systems, well water quality, and Radon among other programs.
Since the early 1970’s, state-mandated public health responsibilities in Pitkin County have been managed by the longtime local nonprofit, Community Health Services (CHS) in Aspen. Over the years Community Health laid the groundwork for how the community would respond to threats of Avian Flu and Ebola, among other public health epidemics and crises. These responsibilities came in addition to the day-to-day operation of the direct health services they provide, services for women’s health, immunizations, sexually transmitted and communicable diseases.
“Our vision for a separate Pitkin County Public Health Department frees up Community Health to focus on essential direct services. As demand for CHS’s services continued to increase it became clear to us that we needed a Public Health Department to focus on the broader responsibilities of public health including population health planning, emergency preparedness and response, public health disasters and epidemics,” said Director of Pitkin County Human Services, Nan Sundeen.
The new public health department will include a director and two public health planners. It will no longer fall under the umbrella of the Human Services Department in Pitkin County which is focused on the provision of economic services, senior services, veteran’s services and youth and family services.
Contact: Karen Koenemann - 970-471-6402Contact: Nan Sundeen - 970-618-9064