As the Executive Committee of the Board of Health, we would like to discuss the work session we held on April 28.
The work session was conceived with the goal of coming together as a board to present recommendations for the future of San Juan Basin Public Health about how to best serve the constituents of La Plata and Archuleta counties. While no decisions were made at this work session, the board did recommend that the two counties end their partnership so that each county could determine for itself how best to serve their constituents’ public health needs.
The board will create a report outlining the recommendations and provide it to the county commissioners of both counties. The boards of county commissioners will then consider these recommendations when making decisions respective to their communities.
The work session, which was publicly noticed, resulted from ongoing discussions among the board members as well as the BoCCs in both Archuleta and La Plata, and their constituents. The discussions centered around whether the current multijurisdictional health district is functioning effectively for all parties. The opportunity for this important conversation about the future of how public health is delivered in La Plata and Archuleta counties was just the beginning of what will be a lengthy, transparent and planned transition process, should the BoCCs decide to separate.
Whatever the result of this discussion and decision-making process by the BoCCs, Colorado statute requires that counties provide environmental and public health services, which are articulated in the Colorado Public Health Act of 2008. Among these foundational services are communicable disease prevention, investigation and control; environmental public health; maternal, child, adolescent and family health; chronic disease, injury prevention and behavioral health promotion; and providing access to and linkage with health care. Public health services are geared to keeping communities healthy and thriving.
There are many ways through which to deliver those services, including via a health district as is the current structure in La Plata and Archuleta counties, carried out by SJBPH. Counties can also have internal public health departments or can contract with an external entity to provide those essential public health services
Whatever the future of public health looks like in La Plata and Archuleta counties, SJBPH remains committed to providing public health services in our region. Throughout any transition process that might occur, SJBPH will operate in a “business as usual” manner. No services or staff will be affected. The board supports both counties in their quest for local control and an arrangement that best meets their unique needs.
The board is extremely proud of the high-quality service and ongoing dedication to the communities this organization serves – and their work continues. SJBPH is a mission-driven, transparent and fiscally sound local public health agency, and will be responsive to the needs of both counties as they determine their next steps.
Karin Daniels is the San Juan Public Health Basin board chairwoman and Shere Byrd is the board vice-chairwoman.