Jefferson County, Colo. — At Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH), we are on a mission to create the healthiest community possible. We are working to address the increase in youth vaping, the rise in opioid and prescription drug misuse, a growing struggle to access healthy, affordable foods and other health challenges. But public health affects all of us — and we need everyone in the community to be part of the solution. Public health is a team effort, and our greatest strength is our partners.
That’s why this year, for National Public Health Week, April 1-7, 2019, JCPH recognized members of the community who are working tirelessly alongside us to ensure Jefferson County is the healthiest, safest place to live and visit as it can be. The 2018 Public Health Champions were recognized at an award ceremony hosted by JCPH, the Jefferson County Board of Health and the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners on April 2, 2019.
“Our 2018 Public Health Champions are extraordinary examples of how members of the Jefferson County community can come together to create a healthier, better community for everyone,” said Dr. Mark B. Johnson, Executive Director of JCPH. “As 2019 is JCPH’s 60th anniversary, and we reflect on public health’s milestones, I am struck by the incredible work of our partners and especially this year’s champions.”
The 2018 Public Health Champions are organizations, individuals and groups that believe in making Jefferson County healthier with their work each day, even though public health isn’t their primary profession. The cohort for 2018 is the largest ever in JCPH history and among the most diverse.
Explore and Discover
Explore and Discover (E&D) is a daycare located in Wheat Ridge for children ages six weeks to 3 years. At E&D, children explore the world around them through play, and teachers and parents participate as partners every day. The organization is a parent-cooperative daycare that goes above and beyond health regulations, specifically regarding disease prevention, surveillance and reporting. For example, E&D frequently reviews health rules and regulations with staff to ensure compliance, regularly communicates with JCPH to report illnesses and engages JCPH’s Environmental Health Services team with questions and ideas about health and safety best practices.
Michelle Deland, Regional Planner for the North Central Region Healthcare Coalition
Michelle Deland is the Planner for the entire North Central Region Healthcare Coalition, a group of more than 300 partners that works to enable the healthcare delivery system to save lives during emergencies and disaster events. Michelle's work to enhance regional health and medical preparedness, response and recovery capabilities leads to a more resilient community — allowing community members to effectively respond to and recover from an emergency and minimize its health impacts. Additionally, Michelle brings together diverse healthcare organizations to foster communication and coordination. This collaborative approach facilitates a more effective and efficient response within the healthcare system, while preserving pre-existing collaborative efforts and local emergency response structures.
Meg Caley, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Sprout City Farms — Mountair Park Community Farm
Food insecurity has been identified as one of the most important health issues facing Jefferson County today. Enter Meg Caley, the founder and "Farmer-in-Chief" of Sprout City Farms, which has a Mountair Park Community Farm location in Lakewood. Sprout City Farms is tackling food insecurity in Jeffco head-on by creating opportunities for all people to have equal access to fresh produce, and the knowledge of how to grow it themselves. Meg cultivates safe community spaces where residents come together to build relationships around food and learn how food can be grown in urban areas. To reduce financial barriers to getting healthy foods, she offers donations to local hunger relief efforts, and on-site, donation-based farm stand/CSA shares where SNAP benefits (food stamps) are accepted and doubled through Double Up Food Bucks.
Creative Treatment Options
Creative Treatment Options (CTO) is a small, private substance misuse treatment provider leading the efforts to reduce the incidence and burden of substance misuse disorders in our community. In addition to supporting Jefferson County’s Family Integrated Treatment (FIT) Court, a unique problem-solving court that improves outcomes for children and families, CTO has partnered with JCPH to lead and participate in several substance misuse awareness events for the community as well as educational sessions for healthcare providers.
Dana Gutwein, Lakewood City Council, and the Citizens for a Healthier Lakewood
Councilmember Gutwein and the Citizens for a Healthier Lakewood (CFHL) coalition worked tirelessly to educate Lakewood residents and community leaders about the burden of youth tobacco use in Lakewood, particularly around youth access to vaping products in the retail environment. Working together, Councilmember Gutwein and the CFHL made significant strides in helping to protect Lakewood’s youth by educating the community and its leaders about the problem of youth tobacco use (including high vaping rates) and supporting strong local tobacco control policies to address the issue.
Through Adelante Jeffco, a community-based project led in partnership with the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition, Jeffco Public Schools, Jefferson County Public Libraries and LAUNCH Together, teams of community members, organizations and agencies work together to identify opportunities and strategies to make services for Latino families more effective and culturally relevant. As leaders of this group, Cynthia Zapata, Xiomara Blanco, Cintia Hernández, Paola Vilaxa and Roberto Gurza have become connectors between community members and programs, and strong advocates for public health. They dedicate extensive time, skills and passion to help other Latino families in the community connect with health services and navigate systems of care. Simultaneously, they actively engage with local organizations, including JCPH, to help train them to provide culturally responsive services to the community.
Communities That Care Youth Researchers
In Spring 2018, the Jefferson County Communities That Care (CTC) coalition worked with 21 youth from Lakewood High School, Wheat Ridge High School, Longview High School and Jefferson Jr./Sr. High School to capture youth perspectives on factors contributing to substance misuse, violence, hopelessness and anxiety among young people in their communities. Using a positive youth development framework, students developed photo-voice documentaries about lived experiences with these factors. Additionally, these youth organized and facilitated eight focus groups with more than 67 of their peers to discuss substance misuse, violence, hopelessness and anxiety. The data gathered by youth was instrumental in guiding the coalition’s strategic action plan to address these important topics. Five youth also went on to present their findings at the 2018 Shared Risk and Protected Factors Conference in Keystone, where they received a standing ovation.
2018 Report to the Community
While National Public Health Week is an opportunity to recognize our community partners, this observance is also an exciting time to reflect on and celebrate JCPH’s accomplishments over the past year. We are pleased to release our 2018 Report to the Community, “Insights: Using Data to Create a Healthier Jeffco.” The report showcases important work across JCPH, including how we use data in our day-to-day work to improve our services and programs. Read the full report at https://www.jeffco.us/2067/Annual-Reports, or contact Ashley Sever at [email protected] to request a printed copy.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we as a society 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.