Public health services need to be evenly distributed

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Public-health agencies need to find ways to work more effectively across regions and the state and with other agencies, officials from 11 Western Slope counties said Thursday.

The officials gathered in Grand Junction to seek ways of working better together as they try to meet state requirements that call for a revamping of the public-health system in Colorado.

That means bringing together counties with full health departments and counties with sparse populations and a public-health nurse, said Kathleen Matthews, director of the office of planning and partnership for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Many counties have no public-health agency, and one prong of the legislation is to make more services available to those counties.

“We are one system,” said Jim Rada, environmental health manager for Garfield County.

Improving services within the system could mean better and quicker sharing of information, not only among public-health agencies, but also with schools, hospitals, physicians and other agencies, Rada said after the meeting in the Latin Anglo Alliance building, 760 Winters Ave.

Improving public health also needs to include greater work force diversity and more opportunity for people in the field, especially those in smaller communities, said Dolores Pitman, who represents Mesa County on the Minority Health Advisory Commission to the state Health Department.

Recommendations from similar meetings around the state will be distilled into a plan to be presented by the end of the year to the Health Department.


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