WHY PUBLIC HEALTH? by Public Health Director, Karen Koenemann
We are so fortunate to be able to live, work and play in Pitkin County. In 2018, County Health Rankings and Roadmaps ranked Pitkin among the top ten counties in Colorado for length and quality of life. We are privileged to have access to spectacular recreational trails, a top-notch school system, free educational and art events, world-class amenities within a small town, and a local community that values wellness. With the County seat in Aspen, Pitkin County is also among the wealthiest counties in the Country. Since high wealth communities correlate to better health, then why do we still see specific community health challenges? Unfortunately, the same factors that contribute to our healthy rating can also create barriers to good health. Results of a recently completed Regional Community Health Assessment pointed out some glaring issues. The County has high rates of mental health and substance use disorders. Our cost of living is high. Affordable housing is scarce. Health insurance is unaffordable to many. Our resort population is transient and folks are socially and geographically isolated. And all of these factors are not segregated. They intertwine to create a complex web of cause and effect which influence the communities’ health outcomes. Read More
Assessment, Planning, and Communication
All public health agencies use assessment and planning processes in order to identify and understand community health issues. In Colorado, counties are required to conduct a community health assessment and public health improvement plan every five years. These assessments take into consideration conditions that affect the public’s health like chronic and communicable disease, environmental factors, health disparities, determinants of health, and injury. The issues that are prioritized by the community are addressed in the improvement plan.
Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response
Public Health’s Emergency Preparedness and Response program is funded through PHEP, a cooperative agreement through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This program ensures we are working strategically at the agency, local, regional, state, and federal levels to protect public health systems from emergencies such as disease epidemics. This work involves assessment, training, planning, and engaging our local partners in technical and practical aspects of public health emergency preparedness and response. These activities build our capacity to provide support as needed to emergency management through leading a emergency support function annex (ESF-8).