Friday, October 7, 2016

The Power of Preparedness . . . National Preparedness Month Reminds Everyone to Plan and Prepare for the Unexpected

Being prepared at all levels saves lives. Public health emergencies might take the shape of an emerging or rapidly spreading disease, a natural disaster, or an act of bioterrorism. While we can’t always anticipate what the next threat will be or where it will begin, National Preparedness Month presents an opportunity to share how we can all act now to reduce the impact of the unknown.  While the month is celebrated in September, every month is an opportunity to learn and prepare ahead.

This 2016 National Preparedness Month, CDC joined more than 3,000 global, national, regional, and local government organizations, as well as private and public institutions, to promote the importance of being ready for emergencies through the power of preparedness.

For more information on planning and preparing for potential public health emergencies, please visit the Jefferson County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Web Page.   Download and view the CDC infographic on preparedness. 

Recommendation to Screen Adults for Latent Tuberculosis Infection

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force,  and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as public health departments across the country are recommending the screening of adults who are at increased risk for latent tuberculosis infection.  Persons with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB infection to others, however, without treatment, about 5 to 10% of infected persons will develop TB disease at some time in their lives.

“There are an estimated 158,000 people living with TB infection in Colorado, and most are unaware of their condition,” said Dr.Daniel Shodell, deputy director of the Disease Control and Environmental Epidemiology Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “At the heart of Colorado's TB elimination plan is the necessity to screen and test people at higher risk for TB and ensure those found to be infected complete an appropriate drug regimen for TB infection.”

Without routine testing, TB is often forgotten by physicians.  Testing for TB by primary care providers will help ensure that people who are infected have the opportunity to take medicine that will prevent them from getting sick.  Preventing the cycle of transmission to others will help Colorado move closer to eliminating TB in the state.

Anyone can get TB. However, some people have a higher risk of getting infected. People at higher risk include:

  • Individuals who have traveled to or lived in countries where TB is common. This includes most countries other than the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Western and Northern European countries.
  • Individuals who are immuno-compromised, including those with HIV.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends testing for TB infection for other high-risk groups, including:

  • Health care workers and others who work in hospitals, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes or residential homes, as well as current or past residents of these facilities.
  • Someone who has been in close contact with a person who has infectious TB disease.
  • Children, especially those under age 5, if they are in one of the risk groups noted above.
  • Please visit the state health department’s TB Program web pages for more information.

Jefferson County Public Health offers screening for Tuberculosis infection at its regular immunization clinics. Please call 303-239-7078 for an appointment.

The 2015 teen birth rate fell to another historic low for the United States.

According to a new report  from National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and Data from the National Vital Statistics System, the birth rate for teenagers aged 15–19 has fallen almost continuously since 1991, reaching historic lows for the nation every year since 2009.

The report highlights recent and long-term trends as well as health disparities found in teen childbearing. Childbearing by teenagers continues to be a matter of public concern.  Despite declines in all racial and ethnic groups, teen birth rates continue to vary considerably by race and ethnicity. Moreover, the U.S. teen birth rate remains higher than in other industrialized countries.

  • The teen birth rate declined to another historic low for the United States in 2015, down 8% from 2014 to 22.3 births per 1,000 females aged 15–19.
  • The birth rates for teenagers aged 15–17 and 18–19 declined in 2015 to 9.9 and 40.7, respectively, which are record lows for both groups.
  • In 2015, birth rates declined to 6.9 for Asian or Pacific Islander, 16.0 for non-Hispanic white, 25.7 for American Indian or Alaska Native, 31.8 for non-Hispanic black, and 34.9 for Hispanic female teenagers aged 15–19.
  • Birth rates fell to record lows for nearly all race and Hispanic-origin groups of females aged 15–19, 15–17, and 18–19 in 2015.

 Jefferson County Public Health’s Family Planning Program works to reduce teen pregnancy as well as to help individuals and families plan for healthy births when they are ready.  The program provides education, counseling, medical examination, treatment and birth control methods for men and women.

Family Planning (reproductive health and birth control) services are available at our Lakewood location at 645 Parfet Street, Lakewood, CO 80215. Most services are provided on a sliding fee scale. We are also able to bill Medicaid and several private insurances. No one is denied services due to inability to pay. Please call 303-239-7078 to make an appointment.

Raising Awareness About Mental Health and Illness . . . Time to Start Talking

Every individual is different and so is their ability to cope with everyday stresses and life in general.  All of us have mental health and many of us suffer from varying degrees of mental illness.  The National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) estimates that there are 60 million Americans living with mental illness each year.

During Mental Illness Awareness Week, which occurs during the first full week of October, and throughout the year, NAMI works to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care for mental illnesses. And every year, the movement grows stronger, shining a light on mental illness and replacing stigma with hope.  Learn more about NAMI and its new stigma free initiative.  Being Stigma Free means learning about and educating others on mental illness, focusing on connecting with people to see each other as individuals and not a diagnosis, and most importantly, taking action on mental health issues.

Did you know that Colorado lost 1,058 people to suicide last year?  This is the highest number in state history. That puts Colorado’s suicide rate at 19.4 per 100,000 residents — seventh highest in the country.  Suicide kills more Coloradans each year than homicide, car crashes, diabetes, breast cancer, flu or pneumonia.  It is the seventh leading cause of death for all Coloradans and second leading cause of death for young Coloradans.

Public Health Encourages Active Living and Walking (or Biking) to School

Jefferson County Public Health encourages schools, neighborhoods, parents and children to join in events that celebrate active living. One such event, is the annual National Walk to School Day that occurred on October 5, 2016. While this day is nationally-recognized on October 5, 2016, school communities are encouraged to implement Walk (or Bike) to School Day in a manner that works best for them. To gather ideas of how to best implement a Walk (or Bike) to School Day event in your community, go to Colorado Walk to School Day. School teams can organize walking school buses and bike trains that promote and facilitate walking and bicycling to school. 

JCPH encourages everyone to learn more about Colorado Safe Routes to School (SRTS). Colorado Safe Routes to School (SRTS) uses a comprehensive approach to make school routes safe for children when walking and bicycling to school. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) administers Colorado's SRTS program. In Colorado, many communities, parents and schools are fostering a safe environment for their students by using SRTS programs to not only fund education and safe infrastructure, but also to encourage healthy options for our children that are safe for both walking and bicycling. 
Walking or bicycling to and from school can be a first step to changing community culture and creating environments that are more inviting, and safer, for everyone, young and old, to walk, skip or roll to school regularly. Here are some reasons to support walking and bicycling to school:

  • Enhance the health of kids. Increased physical activity can combat a host of health problems facing kids today. 
  • Improve air quality. Replacing car trips to school with walking or bicycling can help reduce air pollution.
  • Create safer routes for walking and bicycling. Sidewalks, education programs and traffic calming measures are some of the ways to improve conditions for young students.

Jefferson County Public Health also encourages schools and families to get involved in the Jefferson County Active Living Coalition.  The Coalition is developing a multi-year plan to address policies and programs to increase access to active living in Jefferson County.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Jefferson County Public Health is proud to participate in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.

The good news is that many women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.

  • If you are a woman age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them.
  • If you are a woman age 50 to 74, be sure to get a mammogram every 2 years. You may also choose to get them more often.
  • Talk to a health care provider about your risk for breast cancer, especially if a close family member of yours had breast or ovarian cancer. Your doctor can help you decide when and how often to get mammograms.

For more information on breast screenings and other cancer prevention services visit the Jefferson County Public Health cancer prevention web page or call the JCPH clinic at 303-239-7078.

Recommendations to Reduce Premature Births and Deaths

Premature birth is the leading cause of infant death in Colorado, accounting for 38 percent of infant deaths each year and contributing to lifelong problems in health and development among surviving “preemies.” Although Colorado infant death rates have been declining for 30 years, they remain three times higher among African-Americans than whites, Hispanics or Asians. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the March of Dimes   released “Recommendations to Reduce Preterm Births in Colorado,” prepared by a work group of public health experts, university researchers and health care providers from across Colorado.

The publication, released in conjunction with September’s National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, provides 11 core recommendations for community groups, health care providers and policy makers. In alignment with national, evidence-based guidelines, the recommendations focus on:

  • Access to services.
  • Preventive care. 
  • Planned pregnancy. 
  • Assisted reproductive technology. 
  • Medical interventions. 
  • Mental health promotion. 
  • Avoidance of substance use, including tobacco. 
  • Innovative uses of technology. 

“While we’ve made progress in reducing the health impacts of premature birth, there are still too many babies born too soon,” said Karen Trierweiler, deputy director of the Prevention Services Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We need to recognize the causes of premature birth and work together to give all babies a healthier start in Colorado.”

Because the causes of and solutions to preterm birth are complex, the guidelines highlight strategies that can be employed, ideally in coordination, by all who have a role in reducing preterm birth: pregnant women, health care providers, policymakers, advocates, public health professionals and other community service and support programs.

About 25,000 infants die each year nationwide, leaving the United States with one of the worst infant mortality rates in the world, ranking 131st among 184 countries. Colorado averages 400 infant deaths per year. Reducing premature births would significantly reduce the number of infant deaths in Colorado and nationwide.

Jefferson County Public Health Home Visitation programs work to help moms and babies be as healthy as they can be:

Nurse Family Partnership: A free, voluntary, nurse home visitation program for Medicaid-eligible, first time moms. Nurses meet regularly with women to develop trusting relationship, provide resources and help moms develop early childhood parenting skills from pregnancy through two years of age. Call 303-239-7074 or visit:

Prenatal Plus Program:  This free program for Medicaid recipients offers home or office visits to support healthy lifestyle choices, including healthy eating and tobacco free living. Prenatal Plus offers nurse home visitations to women during pregnancy and for up to 2 months after the baby is born. Prenatal Plus team members offer support and education, providing answers to questions about pregnancy, labor and delivery, breastfeeding, birth control and how to care for your baby. Call 303-275-6011 or visit:

Public Health – Family Collaboration Program is a voluntary home visit program for any family referred from the Jefferson County Human Services Department. Collaboration nurses offer parenting support, stress management tools, and information regarding nutrition, feeding and care of children, birth control, and behavioral issues. Nurses can offer support to moms, dads, grandparents, and other caregivers and provide services on average from 4-7 months. Call 303-275-6011 or visit:

HCP, A Program for Children and Youth with Special Needs  provides in-depth, one-on-one care coordination for families of children (birth to 21 years) who have special health care needs. Examples of care coordination activities include assistance with identifying local services, finding insurance or other financial resources, and supporting important transitions such as from hospital to home or from child to adult care. Call 303-239-7006 or visit: