Assessment, Planning, and Communication
All public health agencies use assessment and planning processes in order to identify and understand community health issues. In Colorado, counties are required to conduct a community health assessment and public health improvement plan every five years. These assessments take into consideration conditions that affect the public’s health like chronic and communicable disease, environmental factors, health disparities, determinants of health, and injury. The issues that are prioritized by the community are addressed in the improvement plan.
The epidemiology program works in partnership with our local health care community to monitor and control communicable disease in Pitkin County. This program conducts disease surveillance, case investigation, risk assessments, and uses other tools and methods to protect population health through outbreak prevention. We work closely with regional epidemiologists, the Disease Control and Environmental Epidemiology Division of Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health care providers notify public health about certain diagnoses, known as reportable conditions. If you are diagnosed with one of these conditions, you may receive a call from an epidemiologist investigating the origin of your infection, which helps us then implement control measures as necessary, and prevent others from getting sick. For diseases with an environmental component, such as foodborne, waterborne, or vectorborne disease, we coordinate with our local Environmental Health Departments at Pitkin County or the City of Aspen. We are also responsible for monitoring disease activity in licensed child care facilities in collaboration with the Child Care Health Consultant. When a cluster of illness is reported, we provide guidance on control measures, and also conduct health inspections.
Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response
Public Health’s Emergency Preparedness and Response program is funded through PHEP, a cooperative agreement through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This program ensures we are working strategically at the agency, local, regional, state, and federal levels to protect public health systems from emergencies such as disease epidemics. This work involves assessment, training, planning, and engaging our local partners in technical and practical aspects of public health emergency preparedness and response. These activities build our capacity to provide support as needed to emergency management through leading a emergency support function annex (ESF-8).