Officials report on health of county

Child death rate higher than state average


Moffat County is experiencing a higher child death rate than the Colorado average, as well as higher rates of cardio-vascular disease due in part to being a medically underserved population, according to Visiting Nurse Association Access to Care Coordinator Diane Miller.

"The child death rate is 43 percent higher in Moffat County than the Colorado average," she said. "That compares with the fifth highest in the nation. Cardiovascular disease is 23 percent higher than the state average."


Colorado Public Health and Environment compiled the statistics, which also show the low birth weight rate is 12 percent higher in Moffat County than the state average.

Chronic respiratory disease is 33 percent higher in the county than the state average, and the suicide rate is 93 percent higher, a number three times higher than the national average.

The numbers for the county might be reflective of the amount of people going without healthcare insurance coverage.

"Having a primary health care physician improves overall health," Miller said.

Estimates compiled by the VNA show as many as 1,300 people in Moffat County, incl-uding 350 children, have limited or no health insurance.

That was part of a public health update given to the Moffat County Commissioners on Tuesday, VNA Executive Director Sue Birch and Director of Community Care Carrie Godes covered areas where the organization provides benefits.

The VNA provides 20 programs -- ranging from pre-natal information to senior citizen immunizations -- geared toward improving the health of county residents.

"The Aging Well program headed by Cathy Vanatta is doing great," Birch said. "Seniors are out at (the American Legion post) every week for 'Wellness Wednesday,' where they swim and stay active."

The VNA recently made a $5,000 payment to the American Legion for use of the pool and facility for seniors in the program.

Birch also informed the commissioners that VNA nurses currently are serving five hospice patients in the valley, as well as 53 citizens in the Home and Community Based Services program.

Ten residents are on doctor-ordered Home Health care.

Godes said Moffat County recently has been designated as an area with a shortage of healthcare professionals, a move that could be helpful when it comes to recruiting physicians to the area. Physicians repaying student loans get more credit for serving in areas of greatest need.

The county has held the designation of a medically underserved area for some time.

VNA officials are waiting until July 1 to find out if the county meets requirements for a federally-qualified health center.

Birch and Godes informed the commissioners the VNA also is interested in obtaining the building that currently houses The Memorial Hospital when the proposed move to a new facility is completed by hospital staff.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext.207, or

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