Pitkin County’s newly formed Public Health Department is recognizing National Public Health Week on On April 7th by inviting the public to a coffee and chat anytime between 8:00-9:30 a.m. at iNK! Coffee in Aspen.
“Public Health Week is the perfect time to begin to educate the community about who we are and what our mission is in the community and to hear from citizens about their public health concerns,” Public Health Director, Karen Koenemann. “With our partners, we’re focused on making Pitkin County the healthiest county in the state,” Koenemann said.
The ‘power of prevention’ is a theme of National Public Health Week and the six-year-old Affordable Care Act is credited with reducing the number of uninsured across the country to record lows. Millions more Americans and more Pitkin County residents than ever have access to timely and affordable medical care.
“That’s a monumental step forward in creating a healthy community,” Koenemann said. “But expanding access to health care is just one piece of the healthiest County puzzle. We know that taking care of ourselves by eating well and staying active, not smoking, and getting the recommended immunizations and screening tests, all influence our health. To ensure everyone has a chance at a long and healthy life, we must also tackle the underlying causes of poor health and disease risk. Those causes are rooted in how and where we live, learn, work and play,” according to Koenemann.
According to the National Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the resources available in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities; the quality of our schooling; the affordability of our communities; the cleanliness of our water, food, and air; and the nature of our social interactions also play a role in our health. Of particular concern in Pitkin County are the conditions which are creating high rates of suicide and substance use. What has been coined as the “Paradise Paradox” in the National Geographic article “Why are ski towns seeing more suicides”, disparities in wealth, social isolation, lack of mental health services, stigma around seeking help and even altitude are conditions which exacerbate this crisis.
“Thankfully, this a community that truly cares about the health of all residents. If we partner across public and private sectors to ensure decisions are made with people’s health in mind, we can build a healthier community. But we need the community's help to get there” Koenemann said.
Contact: Public Health Director, Karen Koenemann - 970-429-6171