Sharing services and ideas
to improve our capacity to provide public health services
in the San Luis Valley
Emily Brown; Director, Rio Grande County Public Health Agency
VICE CHAIR Vivian Gallegos; Director, Costilla County Public Health Agency
Della Vieira; Director, Alamosa County Public Health Department
Connie Edgar; Director, Conejos County Public Health and Nursing Service
Tara Hardy; Director, Mineral County Public Health Agency and Silver Thread Public Health District
David Daboll, Director
Public Health Department
What is a Public Health Partnership?
Six rural county health agencies in southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley (SLV) region are engaging in cross-jurisdictional sharing arrangements to improve public health services throughout the region.
Although we have always been good neighbors, the more-formal Partnership has helped us come together to solve problems, exchange information and work together more effectively.
Together we have:
- created a regional Environmental Health program which has successfully “localized” many Environmental Health services
- distributed 400 free home radon test kits
- partnered to organize the 2nd annual Care Coordination conference
- updated our emergency preparedness and response plans
- investigated salmonella, rabies and food borne illnesses
- worked together to provide care coordination for children with special needs
We are now:
- figuring out how to work together on the state-required Child Fatality Reporting Committee
- creating the required Community Health Assessment and Public Health Improvement Plans in 2017/2018
- working with the SLV Behavioral Health Group to reduce the stigma of asking for mental health services and working to reduce suicides among our local veterans
Helen Sigmond, Liaison to the SLV County Commissioners Association
Please welcome Helen Sigmond, who is an attorney and was previously a teacher. Besides serving Alamosa County as a Commissioner, she is on the Alamosa County Ambulance District Board and the Adams State University Foundation.
EPR and EPI Departments Shared Regional Employees
Left to right: Linda Smith, Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) Supervisor; Joleen Trujillo, EPR Generalist; Ginger Stringer, MPH, PhD, Regional Epidemiologist
We Are Your Local Public Health Agencies
We care about your health!
Your local public health department works hard to improve people’s lives on a large scale. While your doctor or nurse helps YOU improve your health, we work to help EVERYONE improve their health.
We do this by managing programs to keep you and your environment safe. We work to protect the food you eat at restaurants, your children at schools and child care, the public pools you swim in. We plan on how to help you and keep you safe during and after a disaster. We teach people how to manage their chronic disease such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
We work with other local and state organizations to coordinate programs and services so we are efficient with our limited budget. Your County property taxes pay for some of our basic programs and facilities. We are funded substantially through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and also through grants for specific programs from state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations.
SLV Health Summary
The San Luis Valley is a six-county rural, intermountain valley in south central Colorado with approximately 46,000 residents in a land area the size of Connecticut (all population statistics derived from U.S. Census Bureau, 2012).
SLV residents present with higher rates of chronic disease, obesity, poverty, and lack of education than for the state overall (all health statistics data derived from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Health Statistics Section, 2012).
The valley economy relies on agriculture, tourism and its role as a regional government center. Three of the six counties are designated as frontier with fewer than six people per square mile. About half of residents are Hispanic and half are non-Hispanic white. The estimated median annual household income in the region is $33,660 compared to the Colorado median of $55,735. The percent of children living in poverty is extremely high, ranging from 29 to 45% in five of the six counties. Approximately, 27% of residents are uninsured (Belansky, Garcia, Marshall, Puma, Scarbro, & Swart, 2010) and many rely on Medicaid for access to health care.
The SLV is identified as a Health Professional Shortage Area and a Medically Underserved Area, two key federal designations that identify areas with severe health care provider access issues and areas in need of assistance with health care delivery.
Each county in the SLV Partnership houses a single county public health agency governed by a board of health with members – elected officials (County Commissioners) – designated by statute. The Rio Grande County Board of Health also includes representatives from Del Norte, Monte Vista and South Fork.)
Regional Environmental Health Program
Lynnea Rappold, Regional Environmental Health Program Manage, Carol Keith, Environmental Health Technician, and Shannon Griffin, Environmental Health Administrative Technician