Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tri-County Health Department Presents Hero Awards

Tri-County Health Department has given their ninth annual “Public Health Hero Award” to eight local recipients. The award recognizes an individual, business or agency that has worked to improve public health. Nominees have to be from a field other than public health and are selected by Tri-County Health Department employees. Engraved plaques were presented at a reception hosted by Richard L. Vogt, MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department.

The awards were presented to the following individuals and agencies:

Douglas County Animal Services
Skunk variant rabies was first detected in Tri-County Health Department’s (TCHD) jurisdiction in two skunks in 2008 and in five skunks in 2009. In 2010, rabies was detected in 14 more skunks, including seven in Parker. Skunk variant rabies was also detected in a horse in east central Arapahoe County in April 2010, resulting in post-exposure prophylaxis administration for eight people. The increased occurrence of rabies in skunks, the proximity of rabid skunks to metropolitan areas, and the occurrence of skunk variant rabies in a domestic animal all indicated that the risk of human and animal exposure to skunk variant rabies was elevated in 2010.

Douglas County Animal Services has responded to calls from the public with complaints about wild animals acting abnormally, enforced quarantines on domestic animals that have been exposed to rabies, and, most importantly, collected skunks for laboratory testing – an unpleasant but very important task. We are confident that their hard work is helping to protect the people and domestic animals of Douglas County against exposure to rabies.

Strasburg Veterinary Clinic
Another agency has assisted with rabies surveillance and prevention. The Strasberg Veterinary Clinic staff is very knowledgeable about rabies and the public health threat it poses to residents and domestic animals alike. They have greatly aided with rabies surveillance and have assisted with the preparation of skunk carcasses for testing when other clinics were unwilling to do so. Without their help, TCHD would not have been able to respond as quickly to rabid skunk exposures in eastern Adams and Arapahoe Counties.

Jill K. Davies, MD
The increase in the number of pertussis (whooping cough) cases in Colorado as well as increased infant mortality rates nationwide prompted TCHD, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and area hospitals and physicians to create “The Colorado Circle of Protection,” a program which protects newborns against pertussis by vaccinating hospital personnel and new parents.

Dr. Davies has been a member of TCHD’s Colorado Circle of Protection Tdap Program taskforce team for the past year. Her expertise has proven invaluable in helping the team develop new plans for Tdap awareness and outreach. Her passion for protecting infants from pertussis was instrumental in leading the University of Colorado Hospital to implement a Tdap policy for postpartum mothers, and she has also provided educational training for hospital physicians.

Town of Bennett
The Town of Bennett has been improving public health by engaging in a series of studies and planning efforts that make significant changes to the built environment including: a regional trail plan; a bicycle/pedestrian lane; installing new sidewalks adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad; remodeling the Bennett Community Center, which includes an ADA-compliant serving window; and winning a Colorado Health Foundation grant to complete the financial feasibility portion of their plan.

Rangeview Library District
Rangeview Library District utilized grant funds from the national Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiative to create two community gardens, in Perl Mack and Commerce City. Their gardens are two of only a dozen or so community gardens in the U.S. which are on library property. Local school students participated in garden development and many Rangeview Library District staff donated their time to get the gardens up and running.

Joe Ferdig
Joe Ferdig designed and installed drip line irrigation systems at two of our WIC Community Gardens. In addition, he convinced Rain Bird to donate most of the supplies needed for the drip systems at both gardens. The drip systems will help produce more fruits and vegetables and decrease water usage, which will enable us to feed more WIC families.

Katie Lopez
Despite taking a maternity leave in the midst of the project, Katie Lopez, head of the Brighton School District 27J Wellness Committee and Nutrition Services Foreman, planned and organized the effort to create a community garden. She covers the garden leadership position on holiday weekends and she spends a huge amount of time working in the garden. The Brighton School District 27J Community Garden and Wellness Committee would not even be possible without Katie’s hard work and dedication.

Deborah Stallings
TCHD’s Nutrition Division has hosted Produce and Health Fairs in conjunction with the Food Bank of the Rockies since 2008, and we recently included a Fair at our Alton-Colfax WIC office. The office shares space with Wells Fargo Bank, and Deborah Stallings, the Wells Fargo Bank Manager, helped promote the Fair to bank customers, and also coordinated operations since the Fair was held in their parking lot. Approximately 400 to 500 community members participated during the two-hour fair, receiving 4,191 servings of free produce.

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