Routt County declares April Public Health Month: Commissioners thank health workers, community members |

Routt County declares April Public Health Month: Commissioners thank health workers, community members

April has been designated as Public Health Month following a vote from the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday. The designation is a way to commemorate the work of local health officials to help protect the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In a unanimous vote, the Routt County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution declaring April Public Health Month during a special meeting Wednesday.

The declaration emphasizes the importance of the Routt County Public Health Department amid the COVID-19 pandemic and commemorates the work of the people on the frontlines of the crisis. 

“This is an opportunity to highlight some of the greatest public health successes and to celebrate what makes public health so vital,” the resolution reads. 

Last week, April 6 to 12, was the National Public Health Week, according to the American Public Health Association. This year marked its 25th anniversary. To celebrate, the organization hosted daily, virtual events to promote healthy living, such as guided meditations and advice on keeping vulnerable people safe.

Commissioner Beth Melton said it is important to extend the designation and for Routt County to honor the work its local officials are doing to protect the community.

“This situation is exactly why we need public health,” Melton said.

Commissioner Tim Corrigan underscored the guidance local experts like Routt County Public Health Director Kari Ladrow and Public Health Medical Officer Dr. Brian Harrington have provided to develop regulations to combat the pandemic, such as the recent order requiring people to wear face masks in public. They also have been instrumental in establishing testing centers and preparing for a surge in patients, he said.

“Even without this particular crisis, the importance of our public health professionals cannot be overstated,” Corrigan said. “They have literally been lifesavers.”

Many members of the community have shown their gratitude — through social media posts, signs on front lawns and letters in the newspaper — for those who risk their own health to help others by working on the frontlines of the pandemic. Appreciation has been particularly strong for people who work at medical centers, where the risk of disease spread is a top concern. 

Lindsey Reznicek, communications specialist for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, said in an email that such a risk is part of the job and local health professionals work as a team to protect themselves and the community. 

“Health care is a field in which you care for others, and our team is honored to deliver that care to our community,” Reznicek said.

In a separate letter addressed to members of the community on the same day, the commissioners thanked residents for the sacrifices they have made to keep each other as safe as possible.

“It is an emergency that has required all of us to prioritize the health and safety of our community members over economic security — one of the most difficult sacrifices we could be asked to make,” they said in the letter.

“It is surreal to think about how unimaginable this scenario might have been only a few months ago,” the letter continues. “We thank you for turning your lives upside down in order to help us ensure that our health care systems can provide for everyone in need of care.”

The Routt County Public Health Department is a relatively new organization, created about a year ago, according to Commissioner Doug Monger. Prior to that, the county contracted with Northwest Colorado Health for such services. 

“The timing of having a county public health department has been a godsend,” Monger said during the Wednesday meeting. “It is very beneficial to have public health as part of the county structure. It has worked great, and it could not have come at a better time. I can’t compliment our public health people enough.”

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

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