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Vail Health releases Community Health Needs Assessment for Eagle County

Vail Health recently completed its 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment for Eagle County and will utilize the results as guiding principles for a multi-year action plan. The 100-page summary, which highlights strengths and opportunities across Vail Health’s service areas, will also serve as a community-wide resource for grant requests, advocacy and to support the numerous programs provided by health and social service partners.

The CHNA is posted on Vail Health’s website at vailhealth.org/chna. Progress updates, as well as opportunities for further community engagement, will be posted on the website.

In response to the CHNA findings and based on input from community stakeholders, Vail Health developed a three-year action plan to address disparities and health concerns that exist in Eagle County. Vail Health’s action plan focuses on four primary areas: increasing access to affordable, comprehensive, quality care; improving availability and delivery of behavioral health care; preventing and managing chronic disease; and improving health equity for underserved populations.

“The Community Health Needs Assessment is a valuable tool that has enabled us to home in on the four most impactful areas,” said Vail Health President and CEO Will Cook in a release. “We are committed to this multi-year action plan and will work with our community partners to address these needs regarding access to both affordable care and behavioral care across all demographics of our population while also addressing chronic disease needs.”

Vail Health led the comprehensive study, which incorporated statistical health data and dialogue with community leaders and residents, to determine community health priorities. Not-for-profit hospitals are required under the Affordable Care Act to conduct a CHNA every three years. Vail’s 2019 CHNA follows studies conducted in 2013 and 2016.

A wide range of community-based organizations, including health and human service providers, government and advocacy agencies, civic and social associations, and schools provided input via surveys and community meetings. Focus groups were held with seniors and Latinx residents to explore areas of disparity and trends noted in the research.

“Community input was integral to the 2019 CHNA, and we are grateful for the tremendous work of everyone involved in the creation of it,” Cook said. “The CHNA reaffirms Vail Health’s commitment to our endless pursuit for excellence on behalf of our community and visitors, and we believe it will serve as an important roadmap for the future of health care in our valley.”

Eagle County at a glance

According to the study, Eagle County positively leads Colorado in many measures of health and social status. The Eagle County median income is higher compared to the state, while poverty and unemployment rates are lower. Almost half of Eagle County’s population has earned a bachelor’s degree or higher education. Overall, residents have fewer risk factors for disease and experience fewer chronic diseases. Life expectancy is higher than the state average, and there are fewer deaths due to heart disease, cancer and other leading causes. 

However, not all Eagle County residents share in the same opportunities for optimal health and wellness. The study emphasized identifying social determinants of health — the factors within the environment in which people live, work and play that affect health and quality of life — which contribute to inequities and health disparities across Eagle County. The CHNA found that Latinx residents, which make up approximately one-third of the Eagle County population, experience significant disparities in accessing and receiving health and social services. 

Additionally, indicators for behavioral health and substance use disproportionately impact youth in Eagle County, while a growing senior population faces challenges in receiving health and social services within the valley.  

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Snowmass police accidentally injure bear cub, have to put it down

Snowmass police were forced to put down a young bear over the weekend after severely injuring it with a less-than-lethal weapon.

Police Chief Brian Olson said Tuesday that an officer was called to the Snowmass Mall around 10 p.m. Friday after a bear and her two cubs got into a delivery of Doritos and potato chips left near a stairwell.

The officer tried to haze the bears from the top of the stairs, striking the mother on the backside with less-than-lethal beanbag ammunition deployed from a shotgun, Olson said.

The mother took off running but the cubs remained, he said. When the officer attempted to thump the backside of one of the cubs, Olson continued, it turned and the beanbag hit and penetrated its stomach area, causing a serious wound.

“The officer was by themselves so they called in more staff and tracked the cub immediately to safely put it down,” Olson said. “It was heavy-hearted. … Less-than-lethal weapons have the potential to turn lethal if not applied to perfection, and this is an example of that.”

Olson said most Snowmass police officers are well-accustomed to dealing with village area bears, and the department hasn’t had to put down a bear in roughly a decade.

This particular bear family had not posed problems for officers, foraging mainly on crabapple trees around the village. Olson said he believes police successfully deployed at least 100 beanbags this year to scoot bears out of potential conflict areas over the summer and fall months.

“This summer was no different than years past; we fought long and hard to keep bears out of trouble,” Olson said. “It’s a real bummer this particular situation ended the way it did.”

Olson said Colorado Parks and Wildlife has been notified of the incident.

On top of acknowledging the incident as something the police department should learn from, Olson also encouraged the public to do its part in responsibly managing food and trash so bears aren’t enticed to stray from their natural food sources.

The Snowmass Police Department is investigating where the undelivered chips left on the mall came from, and could issue a fine or ticket as a result.

“You can’t leave food out like that, and if you see something, say something,” Olson said, referring to people who may have walked past the undelivered food. “I think we could do a better job as a community to pay attention to small things like that.”