Durango, Colo.: 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) that is based on data collected in the 2018 Community Health Assessment (CHA).

Local Public Health Agencies (LPHAs) in Colorado are required to complete a 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 then prioritize, the health issues that impact their communities, was completed by 1,082 people.

The top five issues impacting community health selected by respondents were: suicide/suicide attempts, affordable housing, substance abuse, poverty, and the availability of jobs/economic opportunity. CHA survey responses demonstrate that community members look beyond traditional public health domains when they consider what makes them healthy; the living conditions in our community that impact health are much more than simply access to healthcare, exercise opportunities, or nutritious foods.

Health indicator data showed that heart disease was the leading cause of death in 2017 in La Plata County, and the second leading cause of death in Archuleta County. Cancer was the leading cause of death in 2017 Archuleta County, and the second leading cause of death in La Plata County. However, most survey respondents did not select heart disease or cancer as major health concerns in their communities.

SJBPH used feedback and statistics to support development of the 2019 – 2023 PHIP, which consists 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.

The CHA and PHIP can be found on the homepage of the SJBPH website at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/.

San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of Archuleta and La Plata counties. For 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of southwest Colorado.