by Douglas Walter
When Grand County Public Health and Nursing Services Director Brene Belew-LaDue needs to hire on a new nurse for her staff, it’s not always the easiest task to embark on.
Most of the 18,000 square miles of Grand County is rural, consists of some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain in Colorado and is sparsely populated, at least compared to the Front Range.
"It’s hard to get people to come up and it’s hard to get them to stick around," Belew-LaDue said, adding that it takes someone who really likes a rural lifestyle.
Belew-LaDue recently posted a job opening for a position on her staff, with hopes to find someone who wants a change of pace. She has been in the area from more than a decade and is happy she has stuck around.
"I do love the lifestyle up here; I like the ruralness and the community," she said.
And being an a sparsely populated area doesn’t exactly mean the Grand County Public Health and Nursing Services, located in the county seat of Hot Sulphur Springs, doesn’t mean public health nurses aren’t an important part of the community.
Belew-LaDue said the nurses stay busy in Grand County.
"Our most important issue up here is access to health care," Belew-LaDue said.
Like most out-of-the-way places, Belew-LaDue said it’s hard for people in rural parts of the county who are uninsured to find decent access to health care.
"We do as much as we can to get people seen," Belew-LaDue said, adding that the office does a lot of referring out.
Recently, the office collaborated with the Grand County Rural Health Network and nurses at the local school district to create referral program called Advocacy for Children’s Health and Education Services (ACHES) for uninsured families.
The program then allows nurses to assist and refer families in need of non-emergency health care and mental health services.
The work reflects the primary goal for a public health nurses, which is to promote and protect the health and well being of the county as a whole. In Grand County, the nurses fall under the direction of the county government, so they answer to the county manager and the Grand County Board of County Commissioners.
Belew-LaDue said they are great supporters of public health nurses and their mission for the county.
She said some of the biggest accomplishments in the county health and nursing office is with immunization. Recently, they helped with integrating the state immunization registry for Grand County, audited all the immunization records in the entire county school system while devising a plan to get all the school children up to date with immunizations.
Currently, the nurses are working on the 2006 Pandemic Influenza Plan, that will prepare the county for a massive outbreak of influenza.
They also will begin a Community Health Assessment, to determine the attitudes and perceptions of county residents regarding the most important health-care issues in the region.
Though Belew-LaDue believes its access to health care, she said the results could come back completely different, such as alcoholism or tobacco use being the primary concern for county residents.
For more information about the facility or to inquire about available positions, call (970) 725-3288 or visit their website at www.co.grand.co.us.