La Plata County Public Health: Guiding Community Wellness

March 4, 2024

La Plata County Public Health Department plays a crucial role in safeguarding the community's well-being. Beyond behavioral health and communicable disease prevention, the department oversees on-site water testing, waste management, and rigorous restaurant inspections. Megan Graham highlights these vital responsibilities, emphasizing the department's commitment to the overall health and safety of the community. By Sadie Smith. This story is sponsored by Alpine Bank.

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Hi, I'm Eric Eicher, employee-owner and president of Alpine Bank Durango. At Alpine Bank we believe in the power of community and connecting you with the resources you need to work, live, and play in our community. I hope you enjoy this edition of Community Insights.

Megan Graham, La Plata County Public Health and Communications Manager sheds light on the vital responsibilities of the La Plata County Public Health Department.

We regulate onsite wastewater, better known as septic systems for single family homes and some small, very small developments without shared systems in the community. So making sure that people's wastewater is being taken care of properly.

The health department operates with the public's health and wellbeing front of mind.

We also do all of the food safety inspections for the retail food operations in the county. So restaurants, stores where food is prepared, any of those types of places we'd go in and make sure that kitchens and food handling and all that is being done safely. We provide water lab services, so that is for both drinking water and wastewater, and so that private well owners can come in and have their well water tested to make sure there's no bacteria in the water that's coming out of their wells. And then we also provide that service for both drinking water treatment operators and wastewater treatment operators. And we are the only water lab, public water lab for all those providers in this region. I think the other closest one is in Grand Junction.

La Plata County Public Health also provides a number of behavioral health and community health promotion programs, which include a range of clinical and harm reduction services.

Our clinic services provide a range of functions for the community, including immunizations, both routine childhood and adult immunizations. We do travel immunizations for folks who are leaving the country and have to get different immunizations than you normally would. We provide sexual health services, so STI testing, some you know, plan B services and other sexual health services in the clinic. We have a range of behavioral health programs, including our harm reduction program. So we are through that program trying to kind of mitigate and reduce the spread of communicable disease by providing clean needles and other kind of harm reduction supplies for people who use and inject drugs. We also provide free Narcan, which is a opioid overdose reversal medication. We are active participants in the Suicide Prevention Collaborative as well as the ROAR Coalition, which is Recognizing Opportunities around Resilience Coalition, which is really designed to kind of help young people in the community choose paths that may be healthier than substance use and abuse. And that kind of all integrates with overall suicide prevention program, as well as we have a tobacco cessation program.

La Plata County Public Health is not just about providing services, it's about actively monitoring and minimizing the spread of communicable diseases like COVID-19 and various respiratory illnesses in the community.

We're right in the height of respiratory illness season, we're seeing an increase of RSV. We've had three outbreaks at childcare centers in the last couple of weeks, which is not uncommon for this time of year, but it's just a reminder that, you know, there are prevention measures that folks should take. You know, stay home when you're sick, keep your kids home when they're sick, wash your hands, wear a mask if you are comfortable doing so. Cover your mouth when you're sneezing and coughing, those sorts of things. So just kind of monitoring and tracking the various communicable diseases that may or may be circulating in our community. Right now that's RSV, flu and Covid. Very typical for this time of year. Come springtime that will shift to other types of disease monitoring. We start to see the animal born illnesses, things like rabies and plague. So we start monitoring for that and making sure people are aware of the risk that may be out there.

We're proud to present Community Insights, powered by Local News Network and sponsored by Alpine Bank. With Community Insights our mission is to foster a stronger and more connected community in La Plata County and beyond. For more information about this and other stories, visit Thank you for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I'm Sadie Smith.


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