Board of Health annual meeting

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RBC | Rio Blanco County Public Health Director Alice Harvey facilitated the annual meeting of the RBC Board of Health. The board of health, required by state statute, acts in an advisory capacity to the public health department.

Harvey shared a letter from former Meeker resident Vanessa Martin Breedlove who lost her son, Stone, in a car accident that also left her daughter, Alahna, with a brain injury. Breedlove now works in public health in Arkansas and sent the letter in appreciation of what public health was able to do for her daughter after the accident.

The board approved its mission statement: “To promote the well being of the citizens of Rio Blanco County with respect and dedication to our unique way of life, by protecting the overall health of our community.”

There is a vacancy on the board and interested parties are asked to contact Human Resources Director Laura Smith for an application. The position will be appointed in May.

Harvey said they have presented a “school outbreak plan” to both school superintendents and are hoping those plans will be approved by the school boards. The plan gives direction to school nurses and staff in the event of an outbreak of a communicable disease like norovirus. 

In the last year, the county’s public health department has added a full-time nurse — Kelly Christian — and coverage in the Rangely office, resolved a pharmacy licensing complaint, worked on communicable disease prevention efforts and a new flu surveillance system, tracked dog bites, and exceeded goals for childhood vaccinations.

The department is in the process of applying for federal Title X funding for family planning again, noting many of their family planning patients come from the west side of the county. The focus of the department’s family planning efforts is on preventing unplanned pregnancies, treating STDs, providing women’s health screenings, and they hope to resurrect an education component for their “high-risk population” with a goal of “making sure no one falls through the cracks.” Unplanned pregnancy is one of the highest risk factors for poverty levels later in life.

The board also reviewed public health’s five-year goals and 2020 priorities.

Commissioner Gary Moyer said, “The difference in what we’re seeing in the last year is remarkable. I like to think we’ve made huge strides in the last months.”

The next meeting of the RBC Board of Health will be in May 2020.

By Niki Turner | editor@ht1885.com