Through the challenges of the last several years, it has been strength and camaraderie within our community that have brought us together and kept us united. In the face of some of the largest public health needs and concerns we have ever faced, Jefferson County Public Helath (JCPH) is proud and thankful of the community partners who have helped our county at every turn.
Every year, for National Public Health Week, April 4-10, JCPH recognizes individuals, businesses and organizations within our county who have made significant contributions to public health, even if it’s not their day-to-day job. As we celebrate National Public Health Week, the primary observance for the efforts of the public health sector, the wonderful contributions of this year’s four awardees were significant and have made Jefferson County is a safer and healthier place to live, work, play and grow for all of us. These awardees are our annual Public Health Champions.
“Year after year, we are humbled and amazed by the incredible accomplishments of our partners. The Public Health Champions have stepped up in so many ways and made incredible strides for the health and safety of our community. They deserve every possible recognition and thank you for that,” said Jody Erwin, Deputy Director of JCPH.
The 2021 Public Health Champions were honored for their contributions at a virtual ceremony on April 6, 2022. We invite you to watch a video detailing the impressive efforts of this year’s Champions.
Padma Polepeddi, Arra Katona, Tori Sandoval & Nick Taylor, Jefferson County Public Libraries
Padma, Arra, Tori & Nick all work with Jefferson County Public Libraries and have been integral partners to JCPH. They developed an innovative partnership model to create exciting, teen-created social development opportunities for teens in our community. Our library partners have key leadership positions in Jeffco Communities That Care, including partnering on www.jeffcoteens.org, hosting teen activities, helping write grants for our health equity grant, and so much more. They have been vital to helping us create meaningful and interactive spaces for youth in Jeffco.
Recovery Works, represented by James Ginsburg
James Ginsburg is part of Recovery Works, an organization that assists with the unhoused population. People who are living outdoors in Lakewood now have a space where they can get a hot meal, take a shower, do their laundry and get appointments/referrals to other organizations throughout Jefferson County. The manner in which the Recovery Works team provides these services is also a meaningful contribution to our community, as the team works in a non-coercive, friendly, warm and inviting way which lends a community-centered and person-centered to the important work that they are doing on the west Colfax corridor.
By opening a day shelter for people who are homeless — a program that has been missing in Jefferson County —Recovery Works is offering services that no one in Jefferson County is currently offering. By locating their program on Colfax, they are meeting their clients where they are at geographically. By creating a space that is inviting and friendly, they are also meeting their clients where they are at emotionally. Allowing people to access basic life needs, they are improving and saving the lives of people who live outside.
Erin Smith, Brittney Rietveld and the Jeffco Fairgrounds team
The Jeffco Fairgrounds team, led by Erin and Brittney, have played an integral role in the Fairgrounds’ COVID-19 testing and vaccination site. At the vaccination side, over 5,000 vaccines have been administered since October 2021. Staff at the Fairgrounds worked directly with JCPH and our COVID-19 testing contractor to ensure that the Jefferson County community had access to COVID-19 testing 7 days per week in a safe and equitable way. Tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests have been administered at this location. In addition to the vital work the team at the Fairgrounds has done to ensure the health and safety of our community through the pandemic, they have also shown to be incredible community partners in many other ways. Their care for the community — in Jeffco and beyond — has also extended well beyond their public health support when they opened their doors (and stables) to those affected by the Marshall Fire in late 2021.
Jason Cardona, Director of Pharmacy Services at SCL Health Lutheran Medical Center and Andrew Bjork, Director of Pharmacy at St. Anthony Hospital — Centura Health
Jason Cardona is the Director of Pharmacy Services at SCL Health Lutheran Medical Center and Andrew Bjork is the Director of Pharmacy at St. Anthony Hospital — Centura Health. Both Jason and Andrew were members of the initial COVID-19 vaccination planning team for Jefferson County, helping to support the equitable and prioritized distribution of vaccine to the whole of the community. Both pharmacists spent hours collaborating on the coordinated launch of COVID-19 vaccine in the community, and they helped to provide services to prioritized populations — often times involving late night texting or phone calls to solve a problem. In addition, Jason and Andrew provided a direct connection to each hospital system, working to link JCPH with relevant health and medical partners. They also collaborated on the availability of COVID-19 therapeutics in the community. Both nominees were incredibly available to JCPH in time and ideas, willing to collaborate on unique solutions, were openly receptive to unique asks and truly made COVID-19 mitigation strategies available to all.
The second announcement from JCPH is the release of our 2021 Report to the Community. This document, available on our website, is an important tool for community members, local businesses and organizations, media partners and more to retrace the efforts taken by JCPH during 2021 to both fight the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to uphold other important public health efforts.
The 2021 Report to the Community theme, a Reintroduction to Public Health in Jefferson County, makes a special effort to detail the many important services, efforts and programs offered by JCPH, outside of pandemic response. Many of these efforts have been underway for decades.
“As we enter a new phase of pandemic response in which we begin to see COVID-19 as an endemic disease in our community, JCPH wishes to take this important opportunity to redefine and emphasize the role we have had in keeping our community safe and healthy since our founding more than 60 years ago. The vital public health efforts we take each day, from food safety to air quality, from tobacco prevention to maternal child health and beyond, will continue in our community long after we recover from the challenges of the last two years,” Erwin said. “Our goal with this report is to help our community rediscover JCPH and all the ways public health touches their lives each day.”
The report also features letters from department leadership, a recap of COVID-19 efforts, program overviews, a financial report and ways for our community to get involved in public health efforts.
To learn more about Jefferson County Public Health, including more about our annual report and Public Health Champions, please visit our website at www.jeffco.us/public-health.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is a nationally accredited health department committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan for all people through prevention, education and partnerships. To learn more about JCPH visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.