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Valley enters health partnership

Posted: Wednesday, Jan 23rd, 2013

Della Vieira

Courier staff writer

VALLEY — A national interest in improving public health is granting the San Luis Valley an opportunity to step up its key core services.

Saguache County Public Health Director Della Vieira presented the San Luis Valley Partnership-Shared Services Project with the San Luis Valley County Commissioners Association last week; proud the six counties were one of 18 teams selected nationwide to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation endeavor.

“It gives us an opportunity to think of needs across the SLV,” Vieira, the project lead, said. “It is a great honor for our public health in the SLV to participate at the national level.”

The two-year program aims to “enhance cross jurisdictional sharing among SLV counties and the state health department through exploration of a structured, cross-jurisdictional partnership” and “strategically address shared needs and interests while leveraging critical assets.”

She said the project would enhance public health efficiencies and increased capacity; improve food service inspection, water quality and air quality and create a flexible and timely response to funding opportunities.

The West Central Partnership and the Northeast Public Health Department will guide the project, Vieira said. With assistance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment director Kathleen Matthews and policy maker Linda Joseph, a Saguache County commissioner, planned outcomes include increasing service-related arrangements and shared functions with joint oversight; metrics specific to shared provisions of critical environmental health services; and process sharing among Valley counties and with informing counties.

Other project team members include Alamosa County Public Health Director Julie Geiser, Rio Grande County Public Health Director Pat Perry, Costilla County Public Health Director Vivian Gallegos, Conejos County Public Health Director Connie Edgar and Mineral County Public Health representative Joni Adleman.

The grant is expected to permit the six counties to participate in a nation-wide learning community on shared services with the direct involvement of local officials and a sustaining regional partnership, she said.

“We want to improve public health and build for the future in the SLV,” Vieira added.

The project’s first steps include hiring a project coordinator; drawing up partner contracts for partner participation; developing a partnership communications plan; assessing the cross-jurisdictional capacity in key core service areas; and conducting a cross-jurisdictional sharing feasibility study, she said. Other project milestones include drafting a formal team charter; scheduling regular team meeting; and writing a monitoring and evaluation plan and a sustainability plan.

Over the next two years, the project will have $124,980 for operations: $60,358 will fund personnel, $18,110 will fund travel expense and the rest will cover additional contracts and expenses. Alamosa County donated meeting space.

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