San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) staff and leadership have concluded a multi-year assessment and planning process resulting in the creation of a 5-year Public Health Improvement Plan (PHIP).

Local Public Health Agencies (LPHAs) in Colorado are required to complete a community health assessment (CHA) every 5 years. Under the guidance of a steering committee, SJBPH staff sought public input via an online survey to inform this process in 2018. The survey, which asked adult residents of Archuleta and La Plata counties to identify and prioritize the health issues that impact their communities, was completed by over 1,000 community members.

LPHAs use community health assessment (CHA) information to create a public health improvement plan (PHIP) for the communities they serve. Once the PHIP is adopted by the local Board of Health, agencies use the document to measure and report on their work supporting population health.  SJBPH staff used information from 4 primary sources to create the PHIP: feedback from the CHA conducted by the agency in 2018, data from national, state, and regional sources about health in Archuleta and La Plata counties, staff expertise about public health programs and opportunities, and core service requirements as dictated by the Colorado Public Health Act of 2008.

SJBPH staff created a PHIP consisting of seven program areas, three of which are “high priority” based on community feedback and staff expertise. High priority issues include: Behavioral Health, Social Determinants of Health, and Environmental Health. Additional priorities include: Health Behaviors, Clinical Care Linkage, Communicable Disease, and Emergency Preparedness and Response. While “high priority” areas may receive the most immediate and concentrated focus, all seven issue areas are important to the work the agency does and will have action plans for progress.

Three overarching goals will be applied to all seven program areas: Community Resilience, Organizational Capacity, and Public Health Innovation. Applying these goals means the organization will advance the health of the communities we serve, enhance the capabilities of SJBPH, and contribute to the improvement of the public health system.

This plan allows SJBPH to meet the health needs of our communities as they emerge and change over the next 5 years. Examples of this type of work are the recent convening of suicide prevention coalitions, substance abuse prevention work, responding to emerging environmental requests like water quality impacts related to hard rock mining or wildland fires, and participating in community discussions around how factors like the cost of housing impact healthful living in our communities.

SJBPH staff and leadership will use the PHIP to assess progress on current programs and initiatives, develop new programs to meet the evolving needs of the communities we serve, support funding applications – both internally and those of our partners, and demonstrate accountability at the state, regional, and local level. More information about the PHIP, including graphics, additional details about each issue area, and definitions of the goals for the next 5 years is available at https://sjbpublichealth.org/public-health-improvement-plan/.