Commissioners discuss public health

DEL NORTE—During the end of month meeting of the Rio Grande County Commissioners on Aug. 30, the board listened to a report presented by Public Health Director Emily Brown. Brown opened by speaking to the board about the community health assessment that was due to take place in the near future and about how she felt that it was time to reconsider how the approach the topic with the public. Brown explained that the Rio Grande Hospital did a similar assessment with the same questions to get similar data from the public and that it would be to their benefit to reconsider their timing.
“We might want to consider changing our time to match the hospital so that we can gather the same data from the public without so much stress on them and alleviate confusion,” said Brown. She continued, saying that she thinks changing from every five years to every three years would not only put them on the same schedule with the hospital, it would also allow for the exchanging of data among entities for a better outcome on the assessment.
Commissioner Karla Shriver spoke up and stated that the state statute would have to be changed in order for them to be able to accomplish moving their time frame for the assessment and that Brown should get in contact with other officials to see about beginning the process. Brown agreed and explained that by getting the statute changes, they would be able to include other organizations to gather data that was needed across the Valley. “It would make the assessment more efficient and we could include all the other groups that have to have the same data for different reasons,” finished Brown.
Brown moved on to the next topic of discussion in her report and informed the board that she was still working to get a medication and syringe drop-off location set up for the county. “I reached out to other public health officials to see what they were doing, and I was surprised with the response I received. I am still working through the emails and will let you know,” said Brown.
Next Brown asked commissioners to approve the salary for their tobacco program director Kristy Hill. Brown explained that the position was paid through the funding they received from the state to fund the tobacco program and that they would also be signing approvals to delegate the funds throughout the other counties within the Valley. “We receive the bulk of the money and then pass it out to Alamosa, Saguache, Costilla and Rio Grande counties,” explained Brown.
“We also met to come up with ideas on what we could focus on and came up with two solutions to help prevent youth tobacco use. We chose to focus on either getting the legal age to purchase tobacco increased or to support the raise in tobacco tax that would raise the price of tobacco,” said Brown. Brown also indicated that New York had been very successful in not only raising the price of cigarettes to $13 a pack, but in limiting the locations where tobacco use was legal.
Commissioners signed all of the required documents and thanked Brown for her work on the tobacco program.


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