Letter: Infection outbreaks

Dear Editor:
Recent actions by our Board of County Commissioners and their attorney apparently intend to suppress accurate reporting of public health data. Certainly it is important to protect individual health records (and those protections have been followed), but there are very good reasons for timely and accurate disclosure of infection outbreaks. Those reports help public health officers and elected officials to track the spread of an infection in the population. That enables targeted preventive measures. If you don’t know where the virus is, you can’t stop it. Public disclosure of infection outbreaks, as required, also helps individuals to protect their own health. Knowing of outbreaks alerts people whether they might have been exposed to the virus and what precautions they should take. Accurate information saves lives.

The only voting members on our County Board of Health are the County Commissioners. As stipulated in their own Bylaws, the purpose of the Board of Health is “To assure compliance with state statutes and to promote and protect the health and environment for the people of Rio Blanco County, Colorado.” We should expect our Commissioners to follow the established public health guidelines, not ideology or political expediency.

Dr. Bob Dorsett

Addendum to my earlier letter: I’m a slow reader, I guess, but I finally waded through the citations of Deficient Practice at Pioneers Medical Center documented by the state Department of Public Health. As summarized in your pages last week, those citations demonstrate a pattern of failure by PMC supervisors which resulted in considerable risk to staff, patients, and residents, and, through them, risk to the wider community. We would be much better served if our Commissioners, instead of attacking our county Public Health Department for appropriately reporting COVID outbreaks, would correct the problems at PMC.

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