Moffat County Public Health plans for shift from COVID recovery to disease prevention
Closing in on the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 case in Moffat County, Public Health says it is looking forward to shifting into the recovery phase of the pandemic, which will allow them to get back to what Public Health would do in a normal year: focus on disease prevention.
As vaccines become more readily available for Moffat County residents and cases continue to drop in 2021, Public Health hopes to be able to transition to providing immunizations, health education programs, disease prevention, and more in early spring and summer.
Typically, Public Health provides immunizations to adults, adolescents, pediatrics and pediatricians for various diseases. In 2021, Public Health says it hopes to work closely with schools to improve county vaccination rates. On top of immunizations, health education, infectious disease prevention and other overall health screenings, Public Health also looks forward to utilizing some new equipment for use on health screenings and more.
“We’re in the recovery phase for COVID from an emergency management standpoint,” Public Health Director Kari Ladrow said. “We are planning for a sustainable way to keep COVID at bay in the community, while moving forward with other public health programming.”
While COVID has dominated daily proceedings for the last year, Public Health still has to a number of communicable diseases it must track, report, and investigate for the health of the community it serves.
With the focus heavily on COVID through the last year, Moffat County Public Health – like all public health departments across the state — has received communicable disease coverage from the Colorado Department of Public Health an Environment, opening up nurses within public health to focus strictly on COVID recovery.
Now, with case counts dropping and vaccination numbers rising, a transition back to normal department proceedings will occur, which will lead to some adjustments for public health.
“If you look at the numbers in the last year, we probably could have managed it on top of our work with COVID,” Public Health nurse Olivia Scheele said.
Though Moffat County isn’t typically viewed as a county with serious communicable disease numbers from the likes of campylobacter, giardia, and more, Public Health is worried that there’s a significant fallout with communicable diseases that will occur post-COVID.
“There’s going to be, I think, a tidal wave of after effects from the pandemic, from a public health standpoint” Ladrow said. “That’s what we need to prepare for.
“I think our priorities…we’re going to need to partner with local agencies to help us identify what we’re already starting to see,” Ladrow added.
Though there is the concern of a possible wave of issues popping up in the future, the public health team of Ladrow, Scheele, and Public Health Nurse Becky Copeland are excited to help the community in a different way moving forward.
“We’re very excited, because all along we’ve recognized there are many components of health, and other components of health have been neglected throughout this pandemic,” Ladrow said. “One of the positives that has come out of this pandemic for public health is that we’ve solidified relationships with partners that we’ve had all along, but have had to rely on heavily throughout.
“The partnerships with Memorial Regional Health, Northwest Colorado Health, and UCHealth have been amplified with the pandemic, so we’re looking forward to continue working with them further in a positive way,” Ladrow added.
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