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Health District's Community Health Assessment (Nov. 2016)

Every three years, the Health District collects information about the health-care needs of our community. We use this information to plan our programs and services, and we also share data with other organizations that are working to improve the health of local residents.

This process is called the Community Health Assessment, and we need your input. The Community Health Survey was mailed to randomly selected households in Larimer County. The survey asks people a wide range of questions about their health and use of health-care services. The information is kept confidential. If you received the survey in the mail, we hope that you will participate! The survey can be mailed back or completed online.

We also will host a series of open meetings in November to discuss local health-care issues, and you can tell us what you think about health care in our community. Forums are scheduled to get input from health-care providers, seniors, business leaders, mental health providers, the Spanish-speaking community and others. The forums are scheduled for Nov. 15-17. If you would like to attend one of the Community Health Forums, contact Katherine at kchu@healthdistrict.org or call 970-224-5209.

If you have questions about the survey or the overall assessment process, please contact Sue Hewitt, Evaluation Coordinator at the Health District, shewitt@healthdistrict.org or 970-224-5209.
 
Health Data on Health Tracker Website for Larimer County (Oct. 2016)

Community organizations, students, reporters and interested county residents will find a useful source of health data from the Larimer Health Tracker website. This website can be valuable to those who previously relied on the Health section of the Larimer County Compass website, which was discontinued in 2012.

The new tool can be found online at www.larimerhealthtracker.org and serves as a hub for Larimer County health data collected by local, state and national organizations. Overall, more than 700 health indicators are available, including selected socioeconomic and environmental measures that strongly affect a community's health status.

While national and state health data resources currently exist, they can be difficult to find and to navigate. The Larimer Health Tracker provides a user-friendly way to search for specific health indicators, while also displaying the information by age, gender, income and education level, where available. The site includes results of the Health District of Northern Larimer County's triennial Community Health Survey, as well as Larimer County-specific health data from national and state data sets.

In 2012, the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment began conducting a comprehensive community-wide assessment of the health status of the community. This assessment was part of the initial phase of a five-year Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) headed up by LCDHE. In discussions with local leaders, human service agencies, and nonprofit organizations, the need for a centralized location for local health data was identified.

Agencies in Larimer County rely on health data to identify areas of concern, assess gaps in services, as well as to support the need for funding to help fill those gaps. The Larimer Health Tracker has the ability to show historical trends over time, as well as compare local, state and national health indicators.
 
Loveland Connect on Oct. 14 (2016)

The fifth annual Loveland Connect will take place on Friday, October 14, 2016 from 8:00am to noon at Truscott Elementary, 211 W. 6th St. This event is based on the national best-practice model called Project Homeless Connect that has been replicated in many communities across the country.

More than 40 services will be offered for the homeless or near homeless at the Loveland Connect event. This event also provides an important opportunity for volunteers to interact with Loveland citizens who are facing homelessness or may be close to becoming homeless. Event guests are paired with a volunteer. The volunteer will walk with the guest through the event, starting with a shared meal, and then help access services available. Services include housing information, dental care or medical health screenings, bike repairs, and haircuts.

To volunteer, please go to www.honservice.org/loveland-connect/ or contact the Community Partnership Office for more information at 970-962-2517.
 
Planning for End-of-Life Care Just Got a Little Easier (July 2016)

You never know what the future holds. Who would make your medical decisions if you were unable to speak for yourself? The Larimer Advance Care Planning Team can assist adults in deciding their wishes for end-of-life care and in documenting those wishes through advance care directives. These services are provided free of charge. We want to make advance care planning a part of the continuum of health care for all adults.

Advance directives document your health-care wishes and are used if you are unable to communicate for yourself. The most common directives include:
  • Medical Durable Power of Attorney. A document that legally appoints a health-care agent to make medical decisions for you when you are not able to
  • Advance Directive for Surgical/Medical Treatment (also known as a Living Will). This directive is used only when a physician (or physicians) has determined that the patient has a terminal condition or is in a permanent vegetative state. The directive documents your wishes related to life-sustaining procedures and artificial nutrition.

  • The Larimer Advance Care Planning Team is a collaborative effort funded by the Colorado Health Foundation, with contributions from the Health District of Northern Larimer County and community partners, to engage and support individuals in completing advance care plans. The Health District is proud to partner with UCHealth's Aspen Club, Colorado Health Medical Group, the Palliative Care Team at UCHealth, Associates in Family Medicine, Columbine Health Systems, the Larimer County Office on Aging and Sharing the Care Campaign to encourage advance care planning in our community.

    It's time to start talking about the way we want to live at the end of our lives, and it's time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don't want for ourselves. Together, we can make these difficult conversations easier. For those in the community who are 18 and older, the Larimer Advance Care Planning Team can assist you in creating a plan for your end-of-life care that represents your values and what is important to you.

    For more information and to download advance care plan documents, go to the Larimer Advance Care Planning website or call 970-482-1909.
     
    Tularemia Confirmed in Larimer County (June 17, 2016)

    The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has confirmed the first human case of tularemia in the county in 2016. This patient developed a lung infection, and may have been exposed while mowing the yard or gardening at home in Fort Collins. Soil can be contaminated by tularemia-causing bacteria from the droppings or urine of sick animals, most often rabbits. When a person mows, blows leaves or turns up the soil, these bacteria can aerosolize and be inhaled, causing pneumonic tularemia.

    All warm-blooded animals are susceptible to tularemia, including livestock and pets such as dogs, cats and birds; however, the bacteria normally occur in nature in rabbits and hares, as well as in small rodents, voles, muskrats and beavers. A recent die-off of rabbits or rodents in a neighborhood could suggest a possible tularemia outbreak among the animals in that area. The bacteria these animals shed can persist in the soil or water for weeks, and it takes very few bacteria to cause an infection.

    Tularemia can be transmitted to people who have handled infected animals. Infection can also occur from the bite of infected insects (most commonly ticks and deer flies); by exposure to contaminated food, water or soil; by eating, drinking, or touching eyes, nose, or mouth before washing after outdoor activities; by direct contact with breaks in the skin; or by inhaling particles carrying the bacteria (through mowing or blowing vegetation and excavating soil). In recent years, most human tularemia cases along the Front Range have been attributed to activities involving soil and vegetation.

    Typical signs of infection in humans may include fever, chills, headache, swollen and painful lymph glands, and fatigue. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer or pustule and swollen glands. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, mouth ulcers, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Inhaling the bacteria may cause an infection of the lungs with chest pain and coughing. Symptoms typically appear between 3 to 5 days of exposure, but can range from 2 to 13 days.

    Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics. If you have any of the early signs, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Untreated tularemia can lead to hospitalization and may be fatal if not diagnosed and treated appropriately.

    Gardeners, landscapers, mowers, outdoor workers, and others participating in activities outside are advised to:
  • Wear gloves when gardening or planting trees, and always wash hands before eating or putting hands to mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Wear a dust mask when mowing or blowing vegetation, or excavating or tilling soil.
  • Wear an insect repellent effective against ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes (DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 are good choices).
  • Wear shoes, rather than going barefoot, on grassy lawns, especially if dead rabbits or rodents have been seen in the neighborhood
  • Never touch dead animals with bare hands.

  • For more information about tularemia and how to protect people and pets, visit http://bit.ly/1ejjGud.
     

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