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MPH students conduct health assessment in Chaffee County

Colorado School of Public Health

Nicole Harty, MPH '16, ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz

Nicole Harty, the ColoradoSPH student who led a community health assessment project for Chaffee County Public Health, presents data she and other students collected. Nicole graduated and earned her MPH in May 2016. 

 ​Last month, Colorado School of Public Health students from the Community Health Assessment course (CBHS 6624) at CU Anschutz presented data they collected from a 3-month-long assessment for the Chaffee County Public Health department. The data will be used as part of the county's 2017-2021 health improvement plan.

The class of graduate MPH students presented their top three recommendations, which focused primarily on assisted living, oral health, and the availability of health care providers.

Members of Chaffee County Health Coalition and Beacon Health Options, a mental health focused organization, sat in on the presentation.

The recommendations were determined by a ranking of health concerns among county residents, how these concerns impacted the community and what percentage of the population is effected, and how effectively public health interventions can negate the issue, as well as a final analysis of efforts currently combatting the issue on a county and statewide level.

A total of 150 individuals gave input to the study, using nominal group technique and key interviews involving community members, health professionals, and health stakeholders. 

"Affordable housing was mentioned multiple times as a huge issue throughout the data collection," said Nicole Harty, MPH '16, a ColoradoSPH student at the time of the presentation, as well as project leader. Certain factors kept affordable housing from rising in priority, however, with the most concerning factor being feasibility. 

Assisted living was decided as top priority due to several factors, including: the county's growing senior population, which is higher than the state average; gaps between transition from independent living to nursing homes; and the fact that local efforts are already under way for this need.

"The students prioritized access to healthcare providers because the issue affects the entire community, " Nicole said. "The issue would require coordinating efforts with organizations such as Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center, and because of Chaffee County’s strength and track record in community collaboration, this could be a feasible effort," she added.

The health improvement plan final report will be submitted before September to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and subsequently posted on the Chaffee County Public Health website thereafter.

→ Read the full story in The Mountain Mail​​

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