Monday, March 30, 2015

Know the Facts! GYT: Get Yourself Tested

April marks the annual observance of STI Awareness Month, a month long observance to bring enthusiasm and focus to STI awareness and prevention efforts. JCPH is promoting the theme of Know the Facts! GYT: Get Yourself Tested during STI Awareness Month.  STIs affect people of all ages, yet these diseases take a particularly heavy toll on young people. GYT is a youthful, empowering, social movement to encourage young people to get tested and treated for STIs and HIV, as needed.  A December 2014 JAMA Pediatrics article found that one-third of all adolescents didn't talk about sexual health issues with their physicians during their annual health visit. Other research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows out that as much as half of the estimated 20 million STIs that occur in the U.S. each year are among young people.  For all of these reasons, health departments, health providers, educators and public health partners across the country want to make sure young people have access to accurate, helpful information about STI prevention and testing.

Jefferson County Public Health offers screening, diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at our Lakewood location, 645 Parfet Street, Lakewood, CO 80215. If you have ever had a sexually transmitted infection, you may be at risk for HIV infection. JCPH also offers confidential HIV counseling and testing. All fees for STI clinic services are on a sliding scale. We can accept many forms of health insurance, please inquire. Please call 303-239-7078 to make an appointment.

World Health Day 2015: Food Safety

With our country’s broadening palette and increasing desire for different and new types of cuisine, making sure our food is safe and properly prepared is more important than ever.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unsafe food is linked to the deaths of an estimated 2 million people around the world each year, including many children. The need to strengthen food safety systems in and between all countries is becoming more and more evident. That is why the WHO is promoting efforts to improve food safety, from farm to plate (and everywhere in between) on World Health Day, 7 April 2015.

Food can contain harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances- all of which are responsible for more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhea to different types of cancer. From the globalization of our food supply; changes in food production practices; changes in our environment; introduction of new and emerging pathogens; and the threat of antimicrobial resistance, our national food system’s food safety is constantly challenged. Additionally, increases in travel and trade of foods enhance the possibility and spread of contamination, even internationally.
WHO’s Five keys to safer food offer practical guidance to vendors and consumers for handling and preparing food:
  • Key 1: Keep clean
  • Key 2: Separate raw and cooked food
  • Key 3: Cook food thoroughly
  • Key 4: Keep food at safe temperatures
  • Key 5: Use safe water and raw materials.

The JCPH Food Protection and Safety Program works to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks and assure that Jefferson County citizens and visitors are provided with safe food. For more information on the JCPH food safety services, visit the Food Safety website. For questions, contact Environmental Health Services at 303-271-5700 or the Food Safety Program Manager, Mindi Ramig at

Cutting Down on Stress to Improve Health

The cat’s out of the bag (even more so than before):  Stress is bad for you! Earlier this month, the American Psychiatric Association released their annual "Stress in America" Survey, which assesses the attitudes and perceptions of stress and identifies its primary causes among the general public. The survey revealed that the primary cause of stress among Americans is money, followed by work, the economy, family responsibilities and personal health concerns.
Although stress is rarely the root cause of disease, it often interacts with our genetics and bodies in ways that can accelerate disease. Because of this, stress is significantly associated with virtually all the major areas of disease. It has been well documented that stress can cause sleep problems, headaches and raise the risks of depression. But increasingly, researchers are uncovering even more ways in which stress can harm our health: 

  • Heart health: Stress can lead to increased behaviors such as unhealthy eating, smoking and drinking alcohol, all of which can lead to heart disease. It has also been shown that stress can reduce blood flow to the heart (particularly in women), and has been associated with an increased risk of heart attack in general.
  • Diabetes: Stress can cause an increase of the hormone cortisol, which can increase the amount of glucose in the blood. Additionally, with increased adoption of behaviors such as unhealthy eating, smoking and drinking alcohol can lead to decreased exercise, less attention to having glucose levels checked, and less time to plan out healthy meals.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: A study published in 2010 by Finnish researchers found that women who had either high blood pressure or higher cortisol levels - both symptoms of stress - were more than three times as likely to develop Alzheimer's, compared with patients who did not have these symptoms.
  • Fertility: In May 2014, Kaiser Foundation Study of the Environment and Reproduction reported on a study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility that found stress in men can lead to reduced sperm and semen quality, which may negatively affect fertility.

The battle against stress is a winnable, although not always easy, stress can be managed.  The first step is to recognize the symptoms of stress. Though these vary in each individual, they commonly include difficulty sleeping, fatigue, overeating or under-eating and feelings of depression, anger or irritability. It is also possible for people to turn to smoking or drinking more in an attempt to manage stress, and some people many even engage in drug abuse.

Managing stress is possible, here are some helpful tips:

  • Positive self-talk: Turn negative thoughts into positive ones. Instead of saying "I can't do this," say "I'll do the best I can." Negative self-talk increases stress levels;
  • Emergency stress stoppers: If you start to feel stressed, count to 10 before you talk, take a few deep breaths or go for a walk;
  • Finding pleasure: Engaging in activities you enjoy is a great way to stave off stress. Take up a hobby, watch a movie or have a meal with friends;
  • Daily relaxation: Engage in some relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga and tai chi have all been shown to reduce stress levels.

Immunizations can save your child’s life . . . Infant Immunization Week is April 18 – April 25, 2015

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.

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

  • Please call 303-239-7078 to schedule an immunization clinic visit at our Lakewood clinic. 
  • For more information about the importance of infant immunization, visit

Spring season brings warnings about egg safety!

Public Health warns Salmonella infection can result from handling live poultry, poultry cages and bedding.  Parents and caregivers should keep children 5 years of age and younger from handling young birds, such as chicks, ducklings, goslings and baby turkeys.  Download the JCPH egg safety flier

Health Starts Here . . . Public Health Week April 6-12, 2015

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, “Healthiest Nation 2030.” 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 6: Raising the Grade. The U.S. trails other countries in life expectancy and other measures of good health, and this holds true across all ages and income levels. Too many people, including some of our political leaders, still believe we have the best health care in the world. We have great doctors, state-of-the-art hospitals and are leaders in advanced procedures and pharmaceuticals - yet our health ranks poorly when compared to other countries. To kick off NPHW 2015, the public health community will come together to talk frankly about what the data reveal about America’s public health.
  • Tuesday, April 7: Starting from Zip. Today, your zip code says too much about your health. Within the United States, there are unacceptable disparities in health by race and ethnic group, state by state and even county by county. The effort to make the U.S. the Healthiest Nation in One Generation starts with equity across our communities. During the second day of NPHW 2015, the public health community will shine a light on local/state/regional disparities. We’ll come together to discuss the role – and success – of the Affordable Care Act in addressing disparities in access to care, while also laying out what else is needed to achieve health equity across our communities.
  •  Wednesday, April 8: Building Momentum. Influential leaders, companies and organizations are taking important steps in line with creating the healthiest nation: just look at recent actions by CVS, America’s major food and beverage companies, RWJF, the American Planning Association, Michelle Obama, and many others. On the third day of NPHW 2015, the public health community will outline major recent changes and what they mean for our health. While the outcomes of these changes will play out over many years ahead, these are significant shifts that demonstrate these are significant shifts that demonstrate momentum is building around a higher commitment to our nation’s public health.
  •  Thursday, April 9: Building Broader Connections. In the work to become the healthiest nation, we can’t do it all on our own. We have to expand our partnerships to collaborate with city planners, education officials, public, private and for-profit organizations – everyone who has an impact on our health. During NPHW 2015, the fourth day will focus on communities mapping the network of partners and connections needed in their areas to make the U.S. the Healthiest Nation in One Generation.
  •  Friday, April 10: Building on 20 Years of Success. 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of APHA coordinating National Public Health Week, and the accomplishments of the public health community over the last two decades are significant, such as a 25-year improvement in the average lifespan for Americans and a 70 percent reduction in HIV/AIDS-related deaths. During the fifth day of NPHW 2015, the public health community (and especially public health student leaders!) will come together to celebrate these and other accomplishments and bring a renewed focus to the work ahead - and what it will take to become the Healthiest Nation in One Generation.

2014 Public Health Champions of the Year

Jefferson County, Colorado--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 6-12, 2015, 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 qualifies them as the 2014 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 2, 2015 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 2014 Public Health Champions of the Year:

  • Supporting Healthy Eating and Active Living in our Communities: The City of Lakewood represented by Tom Quinn, Council Member;  Kit Newland, Community Resources Director;  Jonathan Wachtel, Sustainability Manager;  Mary Ruther,  Strategic Initiatives Manager; Mallory Bettag, Associate Planner; and Lakewood resident, Liz Hartman

The City of Lakewood and resident Liz Hartman have made significant strides towards implementing programs, policies and changes to the physical environment to support Lakewood families in living healthier lives. The City of Lakewood is a 2014 Public Health Champion for their remarkable work on the Sustainable Neighborhoods Program; incorporating health in the Lakewood Comprehensive and Sustainability Plans;  the successful implementation of the Mountair Park Community Farm in the Molhom/Two Creeks neighborhood; the adoption of the LiveWell Colorado HEAL Cities & Towns Resolution; the implementation and adoption of the Sheridan Station/20-Minute Neighborhood project; supporting community citizens to start a bicycle advocacy group; their continued commitment to sidewalk and roadway improvements and connections  to encourage safe walking and bicycling; and, their support of people with chronic disease through a partnership with St. Anthony Hospital and the Consortium for Older Adult Wellness.
We are also excited to honor Lakewood resident Liz Hartman as a Public Health Champion of the Year.  Liz is a resident of the Two Creeks neighborhood and has been instrumental in the planning and implementation of the Mountair Park Community Farm.

Liz attended community meetings, gave interviews, and continually offered her support in every way possible. Her excitement about the farm being a resource for her community was, and continues to be, contagious. Not only did Liz attend every Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting since its inception in February of 2014 but she has been the coordinator for the meetings as well. Liz is also a vital part of the connection between Mountair Park Community Farm and the Two Creeks Neighborhood Organization. She was designated as the "Representative for Sprout City Farm at Mountair Park" and in that role ensures that the farm and neighborhood remain in collaboration. Liz loves sharing her passion for urban food production, and took it upon herself to create the inaugural Homesteading Festival at the farm in 2014. She secured a "Making a Difference" Community Relations Grant from CSU Global Campus that enabled the festival to offer 8 different tracks for attendees. Liz Hartman is a strong voice and advocate for her neighbors and has truly helped to shape the Mountair Park Community Farm into a resource for healthy food access, education and community building.  Congratulations to the City of Lakewood and resident Liz Hartman for your work supporting healthy eating and active living in our communities.

  • Promoting Health and Wellness in Jeffco’s Schools: Bridget Junkala

Bridget Junkala is a public health champion for her work educating at-risk students and their parents about public health prevention resources while also involving public health nurses whenever possible. Throughout her career, Bridget has demonstrated her understanding and appreciation for the interrelationship between public health and public education.  In 2014, she invited public health nurses to meet with her regularly in her new counseling position at Jefferson High School where many youth are at-risk of not meeting graduation requirements. Bridget’s involvement with these students demonstrates how the connectivity between public health and public education can lead to an increase in positive health outcomes. Not only has she worked directly with school age children and their parents but she also has been a long time contributor to the Jefferson County Child Protection team which helps decrease incidence of both child abuse and neglect throughout Jefferson County.  Because of this, Bridget has first-hand knowledge and understanding of the impact of toxic stress (childhood trauma, poverty, poor housing, hunger, etc.) on parents, children and youth. Her ability to maximize a student’s success through partnering with public health is remarkable. Thank you Bridget and congratulations on being a 2014 Public Health Champion of the year!

  • Planning for Emergencies with a Public Health Focus: Lauren Smith, NHA, MGS, Colorado Lutheran Home
Lauren Smith is an active participant in the Foothills Health Care Coalition, formed in 2014 to bring first responders, health partners, longterm care facilities and public health together to plan for potential emergencies. As the compliance manager at Colorado Lutheran home, Lauren designed and organized a tabletop exercise simulating a norovirus outbreak affecting the Independent Living, Assisted Living and the Healthcare Center at Colorado Lutheran Home and Apartments.  The tabletop exercise which involved a disease outbreak affecting over 50 residents and care partners and stretching out over a 2-week time period was used to open discussion about current policies and procedures, as well as to help identify potential gaps. Lauren continually considers public health in her role at the Colorado Lutheran Home and has involved JCPH to participate in exercises, trainings and plan development. She also participated in a pandemic influenza tabletop exercise which brought together 60 individuals from 26 different agencies across Jefferson, Gilpin, and Clear Creek Counties.   Congratulations Lauren for being a thoughtful, proactive liaison between JCPH and the Colorado Lutheran Home. Your work planning and preparing for emergencies with a public health focus, make you a 2014 Public Health Champion of the Year.

  • Reducing the toll of Tobacco in our Communities through Policy: Saoirse Charis-Graves, Golden City Councilor, Golden resident M.L. Richardson and Andy Schmidt, Attorney at Law 

These three tobacco prevention advocates have gone above and beyond to reduce the toll of tobacco in our communities. The goal of tobacco prevention and control efforts is to create a community climate and legal landscape in which tobacco becomes less desirable, less acceptable and less accessible.  One of the most powerful tools to accomplish this goal is local tobacco policy change.

Councilor Saoirse Charis-Graves has gone the extra mile to make health a priority for the City of Golden throughout 2014. Serving as Council liaison for tobacco prevention concerns in Golden, Councilor Charis-Graves attended meetings and educational events hosted by the Tobacco-Free Jeffco Alliance in order to learn more about best practice approaches to reduce the toll of tobacco in her city.  Through a process of inquiry and dialogue, Councilor Charis-Graves became convinced that Golden could do more to address youth tobacco use, in particular, through stronger smoke and vapor-free protections in public places. She spent countless hours educating herself, speaking with community members, supporting her colleagues on Council and working with City staff to craft a proposed smoke and vapor-free ordinance that was passed in August 2014.  The ordinance sets a new standard for communities in Jefferson County concerned about youth and adult tobacco use and exposure of others to the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke and secondhand e-cigarette vapor.  The changes made to the City's smoke-free law include making all City-owned outdoor recreation areas, City-permitted community events, the downtown area of Golden and all outdoor public transit waiting areas smoke and vapor-free. 

M.L. Richardson literally walks her talk for tobacco prevention and healthier communities.  Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world . . . especially if they are participating in one of M.L. Richardson’s organized community walks.  She truly inspires others through her unending commitment to active, healthy living.  M.L. is also one of Golden's strongest citizen supporters for tobacco prevention and helped lead other community members to advocate for Golden's new smoke and vapor-free law.  She helped educate her expansive network of friends and colleagues about the issues at hand and the solutions that the Council was proposing, and she invited all to join her for walking "meetings" to talk about the proposed ordinance and its benefits. M.L. became a "go-to" person for the latest national and local news about smoke and vapor-free policies and why they are so effective in protecting health and preventing tobacco use.  Have an important health issue you want others to learn about? - Put on your walking shoes and join M.L.! 

Attorney Andy Schmidt, co-founder of Golden-based law firm, Towards Justice, has had nothing short of a legendary role in the work being done to serve low income residents who are suffering from smoke intrusion in multi-unit housing. Though his work as an advocate for smoke-free policies began years ago, his leadership in the arena of smoke-free multi-unit housing policies sparked a chain reaction during 2014 in support of change and he is a public health champion because of it.  For years, Andy has offered free and/or low-cost legal services to tenants of low income housing who thought there were no options but to suffer with the health effects of smoke intrusion. His work has helped spawn a movement in Jefferson County drawing attention to the misinformation and lack of resources, to support the implementation of effective smoke-free multi-unit housing policies.  Andy has personally worked with many Jefferson County residents from low income housing to help educate and support them in remediating the intrusion of smoke in their residential units.  He has also educated homeowner associations, property owners and managers on the legality and importance of smoke-free housing policies. Andy served on the Tobacco Free Jeffco Alliance's Multi-Unit Housing Advisory Committee and encouraged JCPH to move forward with an application for funding for an innovative approach to MUH policy advocacy.  As a result of his advocacy efforts, a successful application for funding in 2014 has produced more than 70 area attorneys, 50 law students, and 20 mediators who are educated about and equipped with the resources to assist housing providers with smoke-free policy adoption.  Andy recently moved from Golden with his family to Maine but continues his support of smoke-free policies in Colorado. 

Congratulations Saoirse Charis-Graves, M.L. Richardson and Andy Schmidt for your work reducing the toll of tobacco in our communities through policy.

  •  Promoting Water Quality and Assuring Safe Drinking Water in the Indian Hills Community: Randy Evans

Indian Hills is a small rural community in the foothills west of Morrison. However, unlike most such communities, it has its own public water system. Mr. Randy Evans has been with the Indian Hills Water District since 1973 and Randy knows more than anyone else about the system. He has designed / built / repaired / maintained / overseen / managed / operated all aspects of this public water system and is a Public Health Champion for his dedication and commitment to promoting water quality and assuring safe drinking water.

The Indian Hills Water District began operation in the 1950s as a summertime operation and currently serves over 350 homes and business in the Indian Hills area year-round. Since the late 1960s it has been known that the groundwater system that supplies much of the water to the Indian Hills Water District is challenged by nitrate pollution, primarily from septic systems. Randy and his colleagues at the Indian Hills Water District work hard each and every day to remove nitrate and any other unhealthy contaminants that might be present in order to deliver safer drinking water to their customers. For such a small system, the level of treatment technology used is both effective and impressive. In addition to assuring good water quality, securing a reliable supply of water is also highly important. Water for the Indian Hills district comes from both typical water wells and a large infiltration gallery near Tiny Town. A tiered rate structure and water conservation messages from the District have also led to significant reductions in per capita water use.

When we think about the services and resources we need to build the foundation for a healthy community, safe drinking water is among the most important. It is because of Randy’s more than 40 years of dedicated service in delivering safe water to the residents of Indian Hills that we are honored to recognize him as a true Public Health Champion. Thank you, Randy Evans.