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Dear Editor:

Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” This is especially true in the profession of public health.

Director Andrea Carlstrom, second row, left, and some of the hard-working members of the Chaffee County Public Health Department in better times. Courtesy image.

For five and a half years, I have had the opportunity and privilege to work alongside some of the most talented, passionate, caring, and thoughtful people ever imaginable at Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH).  Through tough and challenging times, as well as joyous and celebratory ones, the team at CCPH has shined bright with courage, tenacity, creativity, and optimism.

On behalf of National Public Health Week (April 5-11), I want to express my sincerest gratitude to the entire CCPH team as well as the countless community partners and supporters that have helped our department and county move mountains despite adversity and finite resources.  We have shown that together, we can make the magic happen for our precious valley.  This past year is no exception.

Chaffee County Public Health

Over a year ago, CCPH found itself in a critical role, tasked to protect the people of our county from a deadly virus of global pandemic proportions:

  • From Emily, Cassondra, Sandy, and Tanya (our incredible public health nurses) figuring out how to test and vaccinate the masses;
  • To Clara (our Americorp member) jumping into the public health field in a most epic year;
  • To Holly (our administrative professional) answering an impossible number of phone calls, questions, and demands;
  • To Caroline, Gabriela, Carlos, and Catherine (our contact tracers/ investigators) leaping into what has been a complex and unpredictable assignment;
  • To Annie (our office manager) keeping track of dynamic financial expenditures and requirements;
  • To Bev (our health education specialist) for not only keeping up with programming but for jumping in to cover what is needed;
  • To Julie (our regional oral health specialist) supporting our oral health sector and figuring out how to safely provide service;
  • To Nancy (oral health support) for assisting with grant writing;
  • To Katie (our Nurse-Family Partnership nurse) making sure that our local mamas have the support they need;
  • To Mike (our special projects coordinator) helping the homeless get showers and fostering a peer recovery network;
  • To Michelle (our health coverage manager) enrolling people into insurance at a time when they need it most;
  • To Rebecca (our community health program manager) ensuring that we have met our programming goals and requirements while offering classes virtually;
  • To Wano (our environmental health manager) communicating the latest information to the restaurant community and fielding endless questions,
  • To Lisa (our Housing & Health champion) taking the reigns and making the vision of storytelling a dream come true.

There are so many that have lifted our spirits along the way this year.

I am so grateful for the support of our county commissioners and administrators, leadership roundtable stakeholders, previous employees, and so many of you who are reading this.  Please get your COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t already.  I am constantly reminded how special Chaffee County is, especially living and serving during a pandemic.  Together, we will get through this chapter in history

Andrea Carlstrom, MBA

Director, Chaffee County Public Health

719-530-2564 (office phone)

719-539-4510 (main phone)

719-207-1399 (cell phone)