Friday, April 4, 2014

Jeffco Youth Stand Up to Tobacco’s Marketing Tactics

Jefferson County Breathe Easy (BE) Teams and the Tobacco-Free Jeffco Alliance hosted an event on March 19, 2014 in honor of National Kick Butts Day, an annual day of activism empowering youth to take a stand against the tobacco industry. High school BE Team students spoke to community members and policy makers about their recent “Sweet, Cheap and Deadly” campaign involving assessments of retail outlets near high schools, a photo voice project, educational outreach, and counter-marketing activities. The photographs taken by BE Team students in convenience stores and gas stations spoke to the fact that the tobacco industry is targeting youth in Jeffco through flavors and price discounts as well as novel products, including e-cigarettes. Youth encouraged adult community members to join them in addressing the problem of cheap, flavored tobacco by offering sustainable solutions to help protect generations to come.

To learn more about the “Sweet, Cheap and Deadly” campaign, please visit: or contact Christie Preston, Youth Engagement Specialist at or 303-275-7565.

Immunizations can save your child’s life . . . Infant Immunization Week is April 26 – May 3, 2014

Thanks to immunizations, children can be protected against more diseases than ever before. In fact, some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children, have been eliminated completely and others are close to extinction– primarily due to safe and effective vaccines. Take polio for example, this was once the most-feared disease in America, causing death and paralysis across the country, yet today, thanks to vaccination, there are no reports of polio in the U.S.
Despite advances in immunizations, too many children in Jefferson County, Colorado and in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, we have seen resurgences of measles and whooping cough (pertussis) over the past few years.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from January through July 2013, more than 11,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the U.S.  Pertussis can be life threatening, especially for infants. Currently California and New York are experiencing increased measle cases.  Travelers, infected abroad, brought the disease with them and spread it among those in the U.S. who have not been vaccinated. Read this editorial on measles and its return to New York City and here is an article about rising cases in California.

JCPH urges everyone to be sure their children have the vaccinations they need. 

  • Please call 303-232-6301 to schedule an immunization clinic visit at our Arvada or Lakewood offices. 
  • For more information about the importance of infant immunization, visit

Health Grows in your Local Community Garden

by Erika Jerme

Just in time for Earth Day, planting season is upon us. Connect to the earth and improve your health by joining a community garden! Community gardening has substantial benefits for the environment, as well as for health. Community gardens help to improve local ecology by bringing green spaces to urban neighborhoods[1] and increasing habitat for pollinators including bees.[2] Gardens also beautify neighborhoods and increase property values: gardens on formerly vacant lots have been found to decrease blight, reduce crime, and prevent illegal dumping of trash or hazardous materials.[3]

Community gardens also have positive health impacts. Family members of gardeners are 3.5 times more likely than non-gardeners to eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.[4] A study of gardeners in the Denver metro found that 56% of community gardeners met national recommendations to consume fruits and vegetables at least 5 times per day, compared with 37% of home gardeners and only 25% of non-gardeners.[5] Moreover, gardeners often exchange recipes and tips on growing different fruits and vegetables, developing new social norms around healthy eating.[6] Particularly in neighborhoods that lack healthy, affordable food retail outlets like grocery stores or farmers markets, community gardens can increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables.[7] In addition to improving nutrition, gardening gets people outdoors and active, and improves mental well-being.[8] Finally, residents who participate in community gardens build relationships and increase trust with their neighbors. This increased social cohesion is also associated with better health.[9]

Visit Denver Urban Gardens at to learn more about community gardening, and to find a garden near you.

JCPH encourages families to eat local produce whether from the grocery store, farmers’ markets or home garden. For those who grow, consider donating to help others. Produce for Pantries is a coalition of 16 Colorado organizations dedicated to addressing local hunger by encouraging community, school and home garderners to plant, grow and share healthy food with a food pantry or hunger relief organization in their neighnorhood. There still is a need for gardeners to grow and donate food freshly grown produce! For more information about local food pantries, call the Hunger Free Hotline at 855-855-4626. For more information about Produce for Pantries, please visit or email

[1] Ferris, J., Norman, C. and J. Sempik. 2001. “People, Land and Sustainability: Community Gardens and the Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development.” Social Policy & Administration 35(5): 559-568.
[2] Matteson, K.C., Ascher, J.S. and G.A. Langellotto. 2008. “Bee Richness and Abundance in New York City Urban Gardens.” Annals of the Entomological Society of America 101(1): 140-150.
[3] Schukoske, Jane E. 2000. “Community Development through Gardening: State and Local Policies Transforming Urban Open Space.” New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy 3(2): 351-392.
[4] Alaimo, Katherine, Packnett, Elizabeth, Miles, Richard A., Kruger, Daniel J. 2008. “Fruit and Vegetable Intake Among Urban Community Gardeners.” Journal of Nutritional Education & Behavior 40: 94-101.
[5] Litt, J., et al. 2011. “The Influence of Social Involvement, Neighborhood Aesthetics, and Community Garden Participation on Fruit and Vegetable Consumption.” American Journal of Public Health 101(8): 1466-1473.
[6] Teig, E., et al. 2009. “Collective efficacy in Denver, Colorado: Strengthening neighborhoods and health through community gardens.” Health and Place 15: 1115-1122.
[7] Twiss, J., et al. 2003. “Community gardens: Lessons learned from California Healthy Cities and Communities.” American Journal of Public Health 93(9): 1435-1438. 
[8] Teig, E., et al. 2009. “Collective efficacy in Denver, Colorado: Strengthening neighborhoods and health through community gardens.” Health and Place 15: 1115-1122.
[9] Teig, E., et al. 2009. “Collective efficacy in Denver, Colorado: Strengthening neighborhoods and health through community gardens.” Health and Place 15: 1115-1122.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Health Starts Here . . . Public Health Week April 7-13, 2014

During the first full week of April each year, the American Public Health Association (APHA) brings together communities across the United States to observe National Public Health Week (NPHW) as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation. This year, the theme is, “Public Health: Start Here.”  Each day of the week highlights a different aspect of public health and portrays just how important public health programs and services are in creating healthier communities.

 Daily Themes
·         Monday, April 7- Be healthy from the start:
From maternal health, breastfeeding support, family nutrition to emergency preparedness, public health starts at home. Did you know that prenatal care helps keep mothers and their babies healthy. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care. ( Prenatal Health Fact Sheet,

·         Tuesday, April 8: Don't panic:
Public health professionals help communities withstand the impact of a natural or man-made disaster by planning ahead, acting as a source of information during the crisis and helping to mitigate the long- and short-term effects.  The JCPH Emergency Preparedness Program is here to help you weather the unexpected.

·         Wednesday, April 9: Get out ahead:
Prevention is now a nationwide priority. Today, seven in 10 deaths in the U.S. are related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.  A striking fact is that 75 percent of our health care dollars are spent treating such diseases, while only 3 percent of our health care dollars go toward prevention. (Public Health & Prevention Fund Fact Sheet, APHA,
Consider that more than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices such as not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active and getting recommended screening tests. (American Cancer Society-  View the JCPH 2013 health assessment and preliminary health improvement plan: to learn more about JCPH and its many programs dedicated to prevention.

·         Thursday, April 10: Eat well.
The system that keeps our nation's food safe and healthy is complex. Public health is here to help you guide through the choices. The JCPH Food Safety Program helps to assure that foodborne illness stays off the menu at Jefferson County food service establishments. Other JCPH programs work to encourage healthier eating and active living. Did you know, that in total, we are now eating 31 percent more calories than we were 40 years ago — including 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners? The average American now eats 15 more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970. (Let’s Move,

·         Friday, April 11: Be the healthiest nation in one generation.
For the first time in decades, the current generation isn’t as healthy as the one that came before.  It is time for communities to come together to take a stance against this disturbing trend to make sure that children and young adults have bright, healthy futures. Get involved in creating a healthier Jefferson County by learning more about what your city or community is doing to improve health for all. Consider attending city council meetings and other opportunities for your voice to be heard.  The League of Women Voters of Jefferson County provides useful links to government information and web sites as a public service to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government. 

2013 Public Health Champions of the Year

Jefferson County Public Health recognizes community members

Public Health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our communities. Each year, during National Public Health Week,  April 7-13, 2014, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) honors some of the many people it works with throughout the year that help to make our county healthy.  While they may not have made public health their profession, the work they do, the partnerships they provide and their enthusiasm for protecting the health of Jefferson County residents makes them the 2013 Public Health Champions of the Year. An award ceremony hosted by JCPH, the Jefferson County Board of Health and the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners is scheduled for Thursday, April 3, 2014 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Jefferson County Administration and Courts Building, 100 Jefferson County Parkway, in the Lookout Mountain Room.  JCPH is pleased to announce the following 2013 Public Health Champions of the Year:

·         Supporting Healthy Eating and Active Living in our Communities  
Cynthia Vitale, Nancy Murray, Michael McLoughlin, Wilma Jones and Dr. Lorrie Odom

Jefferson County Public Health has been deeply involved in its first ever Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) process for the past two years. Planning for healthier communities is a huge undertaking, involving the sharing of data, plans and resources with multiple community partners and other agencies; identifying evidenced-based strategies that all partners agree to work on; and, implementing strategies and measuring progress over several years.  It also involves reaching out to our residents and workforce and engaging them on health topics that impact their neighborhoods, schools and families.  This grassroots community involvement  makes Cynthia Vitale, Nancy Murray, Michael McLoughlin, Wilma Jones and Dr. Lorrie Odom public health champions of the year for their support of healthy eating and active living. These five resident members first got involved in the CHIP process by attending one of the community engagement meetings held to prioritize health issues.  However, their involvement didn’t stop there. Once improving access to healthy food and physical activity while also reducing psychosocial stressors were selected as health priorities to work on, these public health champions  took it upon themselves to volunteer their time and energy by joining the Access to Healthy Food and Physical Activity work groups.   Their neighborhood-level perspectives and lived experiences brought an important addition to the technical expertise of other work group members.  Moreover, their passion for health – and for helping to improve the health of their neighbors – added a focused energy to the groups. All five have also committed to continuing to serve on these work groups to help select the strategies to implement.   In addition to their significant health improvement plan work these champions are also true to the public health messageFor example, Wilma Jones and Michael McLoughlin are both active members of BikeDenver, and commuted to almost all of our meetings by bicycle.  Dr. Lorrie Odom is a retired physician and is also active in Jeffco’s smoke-free initiatives and the Colorado PTA.  Nancy Murray is a certified nutrition educator and is active with the Rose Roots Community Garden, and Cynthia Vitale is an active member of the Two Creeks Neighborhood Association and participant in the 20-Minute Neighborhood planning process for the Sheridan Rail Station.  We are grateful to honor these five Jefferson County residents  for their passion for improving access to healthy eating and active living in Jefferson County.

·         Promoting Health and Wellness in Jeffco’s Head Start Families
Victoria Bailey, RN and Lauren Bell, RN

Registered Nurses, Victoria Bailey and Lauren Bell have put  “public health” into Head Start nursing. In addition to their robust program coordination and case management responsibilities, each of these exceptional women has acted as a gatekeeper for collaborations to promote health and wellness for the Head Start families they serve.  Victoria, the City of Lakewood’s Health and Disabilities Coordinator, and Lauren, the Nurse Consultant for Jefferson County Head Start (JCHS), are public health champions for their work assuring JCHS families receive the preventive services they need.  Working with JCPH’s Injury Prevention Program  these two nurses have seen to it that the families they serve receive preventive oral health screenings, child passenger safety checks, healthy weight education as well as, improved access to health care services.  In 2013 alone, over 1,300 no cost oral health screenings were performed at Head Start preschools in Jefferson County. Initial data from the screenings show a much lower rate of untreated decay than national averages; these findings will be verified through participation in an ongoing national study.  Also in 2013, public health led parking lot interventions promoting child passenger and driver safety helped to educate parents and children on the importance of proper safety restraints. The interventions increased compliance with restraint use from  54 percent  to 78 percent.  That is a lot more children being buckled up safely in Jefferson County.  Victoria and Lauren have made a significant contribution to the health of JCH’s families through innovative collaboration agreements -- agreements that all started with these two public health champions,  saying “yes” to wellness.  Congratulations Lauren and Victoria on being 2013 Public Health Champions of the Year.

·         Reducing the toll of Tobacco in our Communities through Youth Engagement and Policy
Skyler Basta, Joey Rubano, Maria Dauphanis, Dan Martinez, Myra Keeble and Laura Keegan

Over the past four years, youth in Jefferson County have become engaged in tobacco prevention efforts by joining local Breathe Easy (BE) Teams. Supported by their high schools and Jefferson County Public Health’s Tobacco Prevention Initiative, BE teams have made significant gains in shaping tobacco-free norms, decreasing youth access to tobacco products and reducing the environmental impact of tobacco in local communities. This year, JCPH would like to recognize four particularly engaged BE Team members from Wheat Ridge High School as Public Health Champions: Skyler Basta, junior; Joey Rubano, junior; Maria Dauphanis, junior; and Dan Martinez, Athletic Director and sponsor of the Wheat Ridge High School BE Team.

During spring 2013, the Wheat Ridge High School BE Team led students from other area schools in an Earth Day Cigarette Butt Pick-Up at Crown Hill and Discovery Park. Together, youth collected 4,996 cigarette butts in 45 minutes, but the work didn’t stop there. These Public Health Champions were so moved to create a healthier, tobacco-free community that they coordinated a second, informal cigarette butt pick-up to help reduce the toll of tobacco in Wheat Ridge parks. Their efforts helped raise awareness about the negative impact tobacco and tobacco litter have on the environment and the benefits of tobacco-free parks and recreation.  Dan Martinez’s willingness to support youth and encourage leadership in community issues is to be commended.

An enormous congratulations to Skyler, Joey, Maria and Dan, for their meaningful contributions to public health and tobacco prevention.

The Edgewater City Council is a public health champion for their work creating an e-cigarette policy in the town of Edgewater that protects its residents from the potentially negative health effects of these products and discourages their use around children.  Edgewater’s City Council saw that the tobacco companies marketing of e-cigarettes on television, radio and billboards stood to do away with years of tobacco advocacy work by once again trying to normalize tobacco use as well as to lure youth to their new products.  The Council voted to prohibit e-cigarette use in smoke-free places, and make it illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase a marijuana vaporizer in their city.  Council women, Myra Keeble and Laura Keegan are accepting the award  on behalf of the entire Edgewater City Council as they were instrumental in addressing e-cigarettes and vaporizers in the Edgewater city code.  In addition, BE Team students will  present  the public health champion award to the Edgewater City Council during the Council’s regular monthly meeting on March 20th at 7:00 p.m. Thank you Myra Keeble, Laura Keegan and Edgewater City Council for your work reducing the toll of tobacco in our communities.

·         Promoting Water Quality and Assuring Safe Drinking Water
Bruce Bevirt, Environmental Investigations, Inc.

Bruce Bevirt is an expert in groundwater quality and safe drinking water.  For more than 20 years,  Bruce has provided his services to the many residents in Jefferson and neighboring counties  who rely on well water for their drinking water supply.  In 2013, Bruce’s expertise was especially sought after due to the flooding that caused severe damage and left many homeowners with significant challenges.  During the flood,  Bruce provided his services to help flood stricken families quickly evaluate the quality of the water in their well and determine what they needed to do to make sure their drinking water was safe. The services he provided included: collecting water samples for water quality testing;  interpretating  water quality test results;  disinfecting wells if needed; and, educating homeowners on ways to protect their well from flooding in the future. Bruce provides the facts and information our citizens need to make good decisions and is a public health champion for his efforts to promote water quality and safe drinking water.

Bruce came to Colorado as an Environmental Scientist for the clean-up at Rocky Flats in 1992.  He started his Environmental Investigations, Inc. in 1994 and with  the motto  “Health Protection Through Scientific Investigation”  continues to improve water quality in Jefferson County and help his Coal Creek community.   As one of his neighbors was quoted as saying, “When I think of Bruce, I think of a person who is always willing to listen and help with any problem. Even if it’s inconvenient.  He always has time for everyone.  He’s very smart, but humble too.“   Congratulations  Public Health Champion, Bruce Bevirt. 

Support programs that encourage physical activity such as Safe Routes to School

Spring is officially here and Jefferson County Public Health encourages everyone to get outside and get active. Physical activity can help improve your health. Check out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines and the national “Let’s Move” campaign.

Everyone can benefit from physical activity. Unfortunately, most children in Jefferson County are not getting the recommended amount of physical activity per day. Our 2013 community health assessment data showed that in 2009, only 39% of children ages 5-14 met the physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes of activity a day.

Safe Routes to School Programs SRTS programs provide educational opportunities and infrastructure support for people to increase their physical activity by making it easier and safer to walk and bike in their community. All kids deserve safe routes to school in their community. HB14-1301, is a measure currently in the state legislature to increase walking and bicycling in Colorado through Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs. The Colorado SRTS program is at risk without passage of House Bill 1301. Consider emailing your elected official to educate them on the importance of creating environments around schools that allow students and parents to walk, bike or scoot safely to school. Click here to sign up for updates and for more information on the bill.