Public Health Advisory Committee submits final report

Posted 1/25/22

Just last week, the Douglas County Public Health Advisory Committee wrapped up four months of work and presented our final report, on time, at the request of the Douglas County commissioners and our …

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Public Health Advisory Committee submits final report

Posted

Just last week, the Douglas County Public Health Advisory Committee wrapped up four months of work and presented our final report, on time, at the request of the Douglas County commissioners and our newly appointed board of health. The mandate of our committee, chaired by Castle Rock Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Bracken and vice-chaired by myself, was to assess the viability of our county’s new health department and recommend what its focus areas should be.

Regarding the first part of our mandate, I am pleased to report most of us found the historic opportunity to pursue a stand-alone health department, devoted to the unique needs of our county, to be a viable direction. To the credit of our commissioners, our committee was made up of a broad range of highly qualified appointees from all corners of our beautiful county and represented a diverse range of thought and background. In fact, the uniquely capable former executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Douglas Benevento, was on our board and is now president of the new board of health.

The second part of our mandate was to recommend the areas of focus for the new department, and our top priority as a group was to solicit input from the citizens of Douglas County. We heard them loud and clear. Whether we spoke with city officials, community leaders, or fellow neighbors, the following three priorities were evident in our report and should help inform the decisions of our new board of health and department.

First, the consistent feedback we heard was how businesses operating within our county should not experience disruption. The safety and inspection duties, among other regular activities and services of a health department, need to be fully operational from day one.

Second, Douglas County residents want a health department that is data- and science-driven, transparent, and most importantly, empowering all of us to make our own informed decisions. As members of the advisory committee, we conveyed to the board of health the importance of facts over politics and individual responsibility.

Third, we asked the new department to place emphasis on mental health needs, as well as serving those who are most vulnerable, including our senior community. Truly, we as a county can only be judged by how we serve those who need help the most.

In conjunction with our work, we advised on the implementation of the county-wide community health assessment that gave thousands of residents the opportunity to state their health priorities. We included some of what we learned from this process in the report, particularly the importance of bridging the divide in services between rural and urban.

I am grateful to our commissioners, and all of you, for the opportunity to give input into the formation of the department. With a new executive director soon to be hired for our department, I encourage all of us to do our part to make the health and well-being of our county the best it can be.

A copy of the report can be found at bit.ly/3tOcbFR.

Luke Niforatos is the vice chair of the Douglas County Public Health Advisory Committee.

douglas county health advisory committee, douglas county health department, douglas benevento, luke niforatos

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