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In observance of National Public Health Week, April 2-8, I thank each and every Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) staff member and community partner for making the past year a successful one in the population health landscape of Chaffee County and our region. Our department, a small but mighty team of 16, has been busy! Program highlights from the past year include:

CCPH nurses administered 1,703 vaccinations to 905 patients since April 1, 2017, including 165 tuberculosis tests to 131 patients. Our county experienced one of the most active influenza seasons in recent past years, despite administering 31 pediatric doses, 309 regular doses and 82 high doses. Throughout the nation, this year’s flu season was an active one. Our communicable disease program continues to monitor and participate in surveillance to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

Maternal and child health programming is a priority for CCPH. Our two nurse home-visitation programs, Healthy Start and Nurse Family Partnership, have expanded to help more families in need. Last year, CCPH, along with community partners, held the first annual Mountain Mama Summit, a full day dedicated toward inspiring, connecting and celebrating motherhood and caregiving … We are proud to announce that the second annual Mountain Mama Summit planning is underway due to a strong, passionate group of volunteers. Register at to attend the April 28 event and check out for more information.

In partnership with Solvista Health and the Salida Early Childhood Center, a free, weekly maternal wellness support group is underway with complimentary childcare. CCPH’s Breastfeeding-Friendly Environments program, along with the Chaffee County Breastfeeding Coalition, has made significant strides in ensuring that Chaffee County mothers have the lactation support and resources needed to breastfeed their children. At August’s Big Latch On event, 25 mothers breastfed together at Alpine Park while 80 people were in attendance, including dads, to promote a world record for number of mothers breastfeeding at the same time.

Several new CCPH programs were launched in 2017 and continue to grow. Sassy Seniors, a free in-home service for seniors, connects older adults and their families to resources and supports that they might not already know about. One of the most popular requests of this program has been to administer vaccines for seniors in their homes.

Our Regional Health Connector (RHC) program, which serves Health Statistic Region 13 – Chaffee, Lake, Fremont, and Custer Counties – is hosted by CCPH on behalf of the Chaffee County Health Coalition (CCHC). After a regional assessment, the top priorities of the RHC were determined to be depression/suicide, behavioral health/opioid addiction, and diabetes/obesity. RHC-involved projects that are underway include the formation of an opioid coalition, a Weigh and Win program, and promoting activities that support LGBTQ youth and adults. The public health directors in HSR13 have formed a Public Health Partnership to explore ways in which we can work together to be stronger health ambassadors for our region. CCPH also hired a new Environmental Health Specialist/Manager who has brought insight and expertise to strengthen the consumer protection program and beyond.

There have been amazing strides in our oral health, tobacco and chronic disease programs have made over the past year. In oral health, the fluoridation mapping and education initiative and low-income senior dental efforts have been in high demand. School-based services provide education and direct care for hundreds of students throughout the region. The National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) continues to thrive; we have added more classes to meet the interest and needs of the county, proving incredible health outcome changes in its participants. CCPH hopes to share exciting news soon about the diabetes prevention and management network in the county and region. The State Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership (STEPP) program has allowed CCPH to work with the municipalities, law enforcement and the Boys and Girls Clubs to update language in regulations around tobacco and second-hand smoke as well as to provide signage in public areas. Meanwhile, the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program now includes partners in qualifying for diaper vouchers upon quitting smoking.

Over the past year, CCPH’s Emergency Preparedness and Response program has hosted several exercises, participating in the statewide full-scale exercise in June, to ensure that in the event of a public health pandemic, Chaffee County is ready. CCPH is in the process of being trained for response efforts, and volunteer engagement is underway.

The above-mentioned public health initiatives are just a glimpse of CCPH programming and projects. The talent and dedication of your amazing public health team is able to accomplish so much with finite resources. I am grateful for the continued support and enthusiasm of the Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners and Administration, along with the collaborative spirit of our community partners.

Happy National Public Health Week!

Andrea Carlstrom, Chaffee County Public Health director