Since the early 1970’s, state-mandated public health responsibilities in Pitkin County had been managed by the longtime local nonprofit, Community Health Services (CHS) in Aspen. Over the years Community Health laid the groundwork for how the community would respond to threats of Avian Flu and Ebola, among other public health epidemics and crises. These responsibilities came in addition to the day-to-day operation of the direct health services they provide, services for women’s health, immunizations, sexually transmitted and communicable diseases.
In 2017, the Pitkin County Public Health Department was formed with the hiring of its first Director, Karen Koenemann. Karen has since built the department from the ground up, focusing on the social determinants of health and drawing from her former experiences as the Delta County Public Health Director and Eagle County Healthy Communities Division Manager. In 2018, the Pitkin County Environmental Health Department also merged into the Public Health Department. The establishment and growth of the Public Health Department has allowed for the delivery of more comprehensive public health services for Pitkin County, including population health planning, emergency preparedness and response, and public health disasters and epidemics, while freeing up Community Health to focus on essential direct services as demands for such services continues to increase.