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Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, Dec. 4-8 (2017)
It is a fact of life that people age. And, with increasing age can come changes in physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities that can challenge a person's continued ability to drive safely. Although these changes are a part of normal aging, they occur individually and at different rates. Just as one plans for retirement, it's important to plan for transportation needs as driving skills decline.

When families get together over the holidays, this might provide an opportunity to have a nonthreatening conversation with our loved ones. When an older driver must make adjustments to drive safely or can no longer do so, families and friends can help if they have information about community resources.

Many occupational therapists are specially trained to evaluate a person's overall ability to operate a vehicle safely and can provide rehabilitation, if necessary. Specialists work with older adults as well as their families and caregivers, offering individualized assessment. They can identify each person's unique challenges and find strategies that will help them drive safely as long as possible.

In the Fort Collins area, organizations that can help evaluate the skills of senior drivers include CNS Adaptive Driving Solutions and Pro31 Safe Senior Driver. In addition, the City of Fort Collins is offering classes during the week of Dec. 4-8 to help older drivers, families, and caregivers navigate this potentially difficult topic. For information, go to p. 67 of the Winter 2018 Recreator.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is promoting Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, Dec. 4-8. AOTA recognizes the importance of mobility and transportation for older adults to remain active in the community, and AOTA works to ensure that transportation will not be a barrier.
 
Family Safety & Emergency Preparedness Expo on Oct. 7 (2017)

Learn how to prepare yourself and your family for emergencies, and join us in reflecting on and commemorating 40+ years of disaster events in Larimer County, by attending the annual Family Safety and Emergency Preparedness Expo.

The event starts at 10 a.m. on Oct. 7 at the Thomas McKee 4-H Building at The Ranch in Loveland. This event is free and open to the public. Families can attend educational classes, stock up on preparedness supplies, learn lifesaving skills, win prizes, tour emergency vehicles, enjoy activities with your kids, and much more. The Expo also presents an opportunity for attendees to meet local emergency services workers.

We hope that this event will inspire county residents to be more prepared, have access to resources, and continue looking to build a brighter future for all. The Expo is presented by Larimer County, Weld County, Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, Loveland Office of Emergency Management, Poudre Fire Authority, Fort Collins Office of Emergency Management, Larimer County Sheriff's Office, and the American Red Cross. We look forward to seeing you there.

Visit the Expo Facebook page for more information.
 
Community Behavioral Health Forum on Sept. 18 (2017)

The Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health is hosting this forum, one of many around the state, to hear from community members about behavioral health needs.

The goals of each forum include: 1) hear from clients and their families and from the staff of facilities and service providers about needs, successes, and opportunities; 2) hold a dialogue with community members to get ideas for next steps, potential legislation, and creative solutions; 3) update participants about what services are available in the community and how to access services; and 4) increase efforts to reduce stigma about what mental illness, substance dependency, and other behavioral health issues look like and who is affected.

Who should attend: Individuals and professionals with an interest in regional substance use and mental health systems including providers, administrators, people with lived experience, policymakers, and advocates.

The forum meets Monday, Sept. 18, 1:00-2:30pm, Room 308-310 at the Lory Student Center on the CSU campus, Fort Collins. Please plan to attend. We welcome your input. For more info, please go to the Office of Behavioral Health webpage.
 
Community Health Survey Finds Increase in Access to Health Insurance Under ACA (July 2017)

Survey results show that residents of Larimer County have seen dramatic gains in health insurance coverage since 2013. The survey from the Health District of Northern Larimer County also finds that many residents have experienced fewer struggles with medical bills and debt collectors, put off fewer visits to mental health providers, and filled prescriptions that previously might have gone unfilled due to cost.

The findings are part of the Community Health Survey, a large, scientifically designed study the Health District has conducted every three years since 1995. Results help the Health District and other local organizations gauge the community's health and track changes in healthcare access over time. The most recent survey of 2,279 randomly selected adult residents of Larimer County took place in the fall of 2016.

In 2016, 4 percent of local adults ages 18-64 reported having no health insurance, down markedly from 12 percent three years earlier. The number of people who were uninsured for long periods of time -- seven months or more -- also decreased significantly, from 17 percent in 2013 to 6 percent in 2016. Those with the lowest income (138 percent or less of the federal poverty level) saw the steepest drops with 6 percent uninsured for longer than seven months in 2016, down from 47 percent three years earlier.

The survey showed improved access to a variety of health services. The number of local residents reporting no insurance for prescriptions dropped from 14 percent to 7 percent. Among those with the lowest incomes, there was a steep decrease in the number of people who were said they were unable to fill a prescription due to cost (27 percent to 12 percent).

Residents whose incomes were at or just above poverty were less likely to delay getting mental health care. The number of people who put off visiting a mental health provider due to cost declined significantly, from 49 percent to 19 percent.

Gains in coverage had wide-ranging impacts on people's personal and financial well-being. Those who reported having medical bills they couldn't pay right away and had to pay over time declined from 31 percent in 2013 to 28 percent in 2016. Residents least able to pay for medical care got a reprieve from debt collectors as the number of people at or just above poverty who had been sent to collections for unpaid medical bills decreased from 22 percent to 15 percent.

The 2016 Community Health Survey was a random-sample survey of 2,279 adult residents of Larimer County. A more detailed summary of recent survey findings related to coverage gains can be found on the Health District website. For more information on the Community Health Survey, contact Richard Cox at the Health District at 970-224-5209, rcox@healthdistrict.org.

The Health District is a public agency that provides residents of northern Larimer County with dental, mental health, and preventive health services, in addition to connecting people to more affordable prescription and health insurance options.
 
West Nile Virus Season Begins in Larimer County (June 29, 2017)

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment reported that mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus were trapped in Berthoud, making this the first positive sample in Larimer County in 2017. The presence of infected mosquitoes will likely increase in Larimer County in the coming weeks, as the hot weather speeds up both mosquito and virus reproduction. West Nile virus is most frequently transmitted locally in July and August.

West Nile disease is a viral infection that is spread to people by bites from infected Culex mosquitoes. Symptoms can range from none at all to severe illness. About 75 percent of people who are infected have no symptoms; about 25 percent will develop West Nile fever. Less than 1 percent develop the more severe neuroinvasive form, which can lead to hospitalization, critical illness, chronic disability, or death.

Larimer County Department of Health and Environment works with cities, Vector Disease Control International (formerly Colorado Mosquito Control, Inc.), and Colorado State University to monitor and assess the risk to Larimer County residents. The Health Department also works with homeowners associations to provide advice on eliminating sources of mosquito breeding and other methods of mosquito control.

West Nile virus can be prevented. In addition to community efforts, such as larviciding, reducing water where mosquitoes can breed, and spraying for adult mosquitoes, individuals can remember to use the 4 D's to help prevent West Nile virus disease:
  • DEET or other effective mosquito repellent - Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent that has been proven to be effective against West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes. DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (also called PMD), and IR3535 are good choices.
  • Dusk to Dawn - Avoid exposure during peak Culex mosquito feeding times, from dusk through dawn.
  • Dress - Wear long sleeves and pants to keep mosquitoes from biting.
  • Drain - Remove standing water in your yard or garden to minimize mosquito breeding areas.

  • For more tips on what you can do to prevent West Nile virus, visit the Larimer County website.
     

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