EAGLE – Commissioner Jill Ryan just found out her appointment by Gov. John Hickenlooper to the State Board of Health has been confirmed.
“The confirmation process is a little strange,” Ryan said Thursday. “I applied in January. The governor appointed me in March and the state Senate confirmed me last month, but they don’t tell you. I went into hearings and answered questions, but I didn’t know I was confirmed until the congressional session ended.”
People appointed to the nine-member serve a four-year term, and the board is comprised of one member from each of the state’s seven congressional districts and two members from the state at large.
Ryan’s appointment also fulfills the requirement that one member be a county commissioner.
“I applied because I knew there was a vacancy for the county commissioner appointment, and I have a background in public health,” Ryan said. “I felt like I could provide a rural voice.”
Ryan has a master’s degree in public health and has been a director at both the state health department and with Eagle County. She was elected as county commissioner in November.
State board of health duties
The State Board of Health determines general policies, rules and standards to administer the public health laws of the state, including those related to health care facilities, retail food establishments, X-ray machines, the statewide trauma system, the medical marijuana registry and reportable conditions, such as cancer.
The board also awards grants for chronic disease prevention, tobacco use prevention, health disparities and HIV research.
Plight of rural residents
Ryan said that uninsured residents of rural areas tend to lack access to health care.
“In Colorado, 17 percent of the population is uninsured,” she said.
“In Eagle County, 29 percent of the population is uninsured. We have a higher rate of uninsured residents and fewer resources, and it’s not just our area. This is typical for rural communities,” she added
Ryan’s new position on the state health board will entail monthly all-day meetings in Denver.
A whole new book
The new post adds to a heap of changes Ryan is navigating these days.
Just as she is getting acquainted with her duties as county commissioner, she will have a new face joining her on the board once someone is named to fill the vacancy of Jon Stavney, who leaves his Democratic commissioner seat at the end of the month to become Eagle’s town manager.
“It’s not just a new chapter, it’s a whole new book,” Ryan said.