Dr. Mark Johnson, the executive director of Jefferson County Public Health, sees public health as the sewage system of health care. He lists examples of the work that Jefferson County Public Health …
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Jefferson County Public Health has been serving the public by promoting and protecting the health of Jefferson County residents for 60 years. Here are some the organization’s major milestones and accomplishments over the years.
1960: Jefferson County Public Health held its first flu vaccine clinic.
1974: Jefferson County Public Health opened its first WIC location. Today, the organization has four permanent WIC locations, and over 6,000 people receive services.
1990: Jefferson County Public Health starts its Tobacco Prevention Initiative — creating tobacco prevention projects.
2003: As cases of West Nile Virus began to sprout, Jefferson County Public Health opened its Integrated Mosquito Control Program.
2012: In response to recreational marijuana being legalized, Jefferson County Public Health founded Jefferson County Communities That Care to combat substance use and to address mental health and violence among teens in Jeffco.
Dr. Mark Johnson, the executive director of Jefferson County Public Health, sees public health as the sewage system of health care. He lists examples of the work that Jefferson County Public Health does such as exploring air quality, food supply and diseases that travel throughout the community — information that he says is necessary for clinical health care providers.
“Nobody thinks about their sewage system until it backs up. That’s true with public health,” said Johnson. “No one thinks about it until there is some sort of health care disaster.”
With the new year in full swing, Jefferson County Public Health is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The organization is focused on promoting and protecting health through education, partnerships and prevention for Jefferson County residents.
One of the public health services that the department prides itself on is its Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). It offers a number of services to pregnant women, mothers, children and infants like nutrition information, mother’s milk donations, a breastfeeding mothers’ group, basic health screenings, referrals for health care and other community services.
“We’re talking that bigger picture in terms of making sure that vulnerable population gets off to a good start in life. I always thought everyone should be part of the WIC program,” said Kylie Harrison, Jefferson County Public Health community nutrition manager. “Jefferson County Public Health is very special. We’re working together on that individual level and that bigger picture population level.”
Maryanne McCoy and her one month old baby use WIC services. She previously had trouble breastfeeding, but she has been seeing a lactation consultant at Jefferson County Public Health's Lakewood WIC location.
"(WIC) is vital. I wish I would've known about this place when I had my first born," McCoy said.
Jefferson County Public Health was once a staff of only 24 people, but it has grown to 188 employees who work in Lakewood, Golden, Arvada, Wheat Ridge and Littleton.
Looking to the future, Greg Deranleau, president of the Jefferson County Board of Health, said the department is looking toward implementing its strategic plan— to focus on promoting health through partnerships, prevention and education.
“We are planning to continue to improve the health of the people of Jeffco and the equity for those who are otherwise underserved,” said Deranleau.
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