San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) would like to highlight the collaborative efforts put forth by several partners in the region to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

SJBPH has worked closely with Animas Surgical Hospital (ASH) and Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) to provide COVID-19 vaccine to phase 1A recipients including residents and staff of long-term care facilities. These facilities were designated to be vaccinated through the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, but when it became clear that this program was delaying its start in the region, SJBPH, ASH, and PSMC worked quickly to provide COVID-19 vaccine to individuals in this high-risk population ahead of the federal program launch.

PSMC has administered the first dose of vaccine to all patients and staff desiring vaccine in the long-term care facilities in Archuleta County.  Similarly, by Saturday, January 9th, all residents and staff who are eligible for first doses of vaccine in long-term care facilities in La Plata County will have received vaccinations. In total, over 300 staff and residents in both counties have been vaccinated.

“SJBPH is so grateful for the strong partnership with Animas Surgical Hospital and Pagosa Springs Medical Center in providing both COVID-19 testing and vaccination support,” said Liane Jollon, executive director of SJPBH. “They have been extremely responsive to rapidly changing needs during this pandemic and are committed to providing crucial services for all community members,” she said.

As limited supplies of vaccine arrive in Southwest Colorado, SJBPH is emphasizing the need to continue following public heath precautions including individuals getting tested if sick or potentially exposed to COVID-19. Transportation limitations and lack of access may prevent some community members from getting tested. SJBPH’s COVID-19 testing of priority populations works to address these barriers by working with community partners to provide this service to people who might not otherwise get tested.

Since early May, SJBPH has performed over 600 COVID-19 tests at 14 pop-up testing locations including Purple Cliffs, Manna Soup Kitchen, The Volunteers of America Shelter, Hilltop House, and others. SJBPH is collaborating with several partners such as Compañeros, Manna Soup Kitchen, and The Family Center to ensure that all community members have access to COVID-19 testing. SJBPH continues to expand COVID-19 testing to populations that may face barriers, as necessary.

Asymptomatic individuals are estimated to cause over 50 percent of COVID-19 transmission making testing and contact tracing vitally important to stop the spread of the pandemic. SJBPH’s targeted testing reaches community members disproportionately affected by the pandemic including minority and low-income populations, those living in congregate housing, people experiencing homelessness, older adults, and those with disabilities.

“Resources need to be distributed equitably in order to slow the spread of this virus,” Jollon said. “We know drive-thru testing doesn’t work for everyone. By working with partners in our community to meet people where they are with resources like testing, we can better protect the health of all of our community members.”

SJBPH will continue to collaborate with community partners to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccination opportunities to ensure that all community members have access to these crucial tools to control the spread of the virus.

SJPBH continues to urge everyone to follow these important public health precautions:

  • Wearing face masks
  • Social distancing of at least 6 feet
  • Avoiding nonessential indoor spaces, and gatherings with others not in your household
  • Getting tested if you are symptomatic, think you’ve been exposed, or if you work in a high-contact position
  • Avoiding travel
  • Washing hands well
  • Getting the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available

For the most up to date information to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, visit SJBPH’s website: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/.

For information on vaccine and to share contact information to receive vaccine notifications visit: https://sjbpublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine/.