Adult, youth behavioral health among top priorities for Routt County
The Routt County commissioners, which also serves as the Board of Health, met Monday, March 27, to lay out the next steps for the final stages of the Community Health Assessment process, which is expected to wrap up this fall.
During the meeting, Routt County Public Health updated county commissioners on the four priorities the county needs to focus on for the next five years, including adult behavioral health, youth behavioral health, healthy housing and healthy eating.
“What’s great about this process is we are taking a community approach,” Routt County Public Health Director Roberta Smith said. “We are taking data from the health needs assessment that was previously done with UCHealth and Northwest Colorado Health, and looking at it from a health perspective.”
Smith explained to commissioners that department officials plan to focus on mental health and substance abuse. This includes evaluating and potentially expanding the county’s resources.
On the healthy housing front, Smith emphasized the importance of evaluating the conditions in which county residents are being housed. This priority goes hand in hand with healthy eating and falls under a larger health education umbrella, as it looks to focus on accessibility to safe and healthy food and conditions.
The initial step of this process involved focusing on radon and lead in homes, and that has expanded into looking at the social determinants of health overall.
This includes starting to test drinking water in day cares and schools with help from state funding through a Colorado House bill that passed in June to increase lead testing in schools.
Additionally, community needs health assessments have shown the county is not where it was supposed to be in terms of lead surveillance at well-child visits for small children ages 0-3. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, well-child visits are for young children, generally under 3, and are meant to be a time for physicians and parents to convene about tracking the child’s health, addressing concerns and getting vaccines. To address this, the public health department worked to raise awareness on lead surveillance to health care providers across the county.
Smith added that Public Health Nurse Susan Madigan will partner with school nurses to help with age-appropriate immunizations for school children.
“One of the school’s needs is help with fulfilling immunization requirements,” Smith said. “Fall is a busy time for people, so the board looks to focus on this in the spring prior to children coming back to school.”
Dates have been set out for the elementary and middle schools to administer the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccines this spring.
With the prioritization process completed, the health department will move onto the public health improvement plan. This portion of the process will delve into what steps the health department and community partners will take to address the prioritized health issues in Routt County.
Smith noted that community partnerships play a key role in this process, as this is not something Routt County Public Health can tackle alone.
“It looks as though we have arrived at something that’s workable,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said during Monday’s meeting. “This is the kind of work that will help guide not only your work (at the health department) but the work of all the nonprofits that work within these spaces.”
Kit Geary is the county, public safety and education reporter. To reach her, call 970-871-4229 or email her at kgeary@SteamboatPilot.com.
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