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What is Public Health?

Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play.

While a doctor treats people who are sick, those of us working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place. We also promote wellness by encouraging healthy behaviors.

From conducting scientific research to educating about health, people in the field of public health work to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy. That can mean vaccinating children and adults to prevent the spread of disease. Or educating people about the risks of alcohol and tobacco. Public health sets safety standards to protect workers and develops school nutrition programs to ensure kids have access to healthy food.
Public health works to track disease outbreaks, prevent injuries and shed light on why some of us are more likely to suffer from poor health than others. The many facets of public health include speaking out for laws that promote smoke-free indoor air and seatbelts, spreading the word about ways to stay healthy and giving science-based solutions to problems.
Public health: saves money, improves our quality of life, helps children thrive and reduces human suffering.

Community Health Assessment

Colorado public health departments are mandated through Colorado Senate Bill 194-Health Reauthorization Act to complete a comprehensive community health assessment every five years.

Community Health Assessments look at various health data points to determine where health problems exist and what contributes to those problems. Bent County Public Health (BCPH) partners with various organizations and individuals in the community to complete community health assessments.

In 2012, BCPH completed the first assessment to meet this requirement. BCPH is currently working on the second assessment. This process involves gathering data and asking for input and feedback from community members and leaders.

Once priorities are identified through the assessment, a five-year Community Health Improvement Plan is created outlining what will be done to address the priorities.

Bent County Child Fatality Review Team

The Bent County Child Fatality Review Team is made up of representatives from law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office, Department of Social Services, public health, school districts, hospitals and the Coroner.
In 2013, legislation was passed that required any death of a child 0-18 years of age that was not from natural causes to be reviewed and evaluated on a local level in an effort to determine if there are any prevention strategies that could be implemented to possibly prevent another death from occurring in the future.
The topics are confidential in nature and are protected under Colorado Revised Statute 25-20.5-408 (2) (b). Therefore, part of the meeting will be held in executive session.

For additional information contact the team chairperson:

Jenna Ward, Public Health Nurse, Bent County Public Health
[email protected]Phone 719.456-0517
Additional Links:

Communicable Diseases

Communicable diseases are contagious illnesses that can be spread from person-to-person, through contact with animals or insects, or through contaminated food or water. This includes serious diseases such as E. coli, Salmonella, hepatitis A, meningitis, and whooping cough (pertussis). When certain diseases are reported to public health, we work hard to determine where a person got sick and try to prevent further spread of illness. We also work to prevent the occurrence of diseases in our community through education of our residents.

Reportable Diseases

Certain diseases and outbreaks in Colorado are required to be reported to public health. The Communicable Disease staff may contact persons who have been ill to determine where they may have gotten sick and try to prevent further spread of illness. Staff investigate disease outbreaks in long-term care facilities, child care facilities, schools, restaurants and other group settings. We attempt to identify the cause of the outbreak and immediately put control measures into place.
For communicable disease concerns or to report an outbreak, call 719-456-0517.

Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR)

Bent County Public Health’s EPR program participates in efforts to prevent, respond, and recover from emergencies that impact public health. These emergencies can be natural (wildfires, blizzards, flooding), disease outbreaks (pandemic influenza, West Nile virus, or meningococcal disease) or man-made (acts of terrorism or hazardous materials spill). In order to do this, Public Health trains with first-responder agencies and other partners to be better prepared to protect the public.

Be Prepared

Preparedness information is available at the following websites:

Environmental Health

Active Public Health Inspection Programs (these inspection are public record)

  • Retail Food
    • Restaurants/Grocery Stores/Convenience Stores/Others
    • Licensing/Renewals/Plan Reviews/Real-a-state Reviews
  • Childcare Facilities
  • Schools
    • General sanitation/lab and vocational safety
  • Public/Semi-Public Swimming Pools

Complaint-based Public Health Investigations/Inspections

  • Public Accommodations
    • Hotels, motels, boarding houses
  • Temporary Food Events
  • Body Art
  • Artificial Tanning
  • Unsanitary conditions that affect the community and pose a risk of “DISEASE TRANSMISSION” in the community. This is a high threshold.
    • Please first contact your local government for enforcement of local code violations.
    • We DON’T enforce or have the authority to enforce local code violations or force compliance in single residences with landlords, unless it affects the community.
      • FREE Call4All Legal Clinic; serving Low-Income Community of Southeast Colorado
      • 3rd Wednesday of every month from 5-8pm; 844-404-7400

Other/Miscelanious Environmental Investigations/Duties

  • Foodborne Illness investigations with Health Department
  • Complaints on any of the previously mentioned area’s above
  • Enforcement of on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) regulations and non-permitted systems after 1976 installed systems
    • New system permitting is performed by Bent County Administrator

Inform and Education to the Public

Assist the State on other environmental issues/complaints/enforcement.

Report community public health emergencies or hazardous
substance spills at any time: 1-877-518-5608

Tobacco Free Bent County

Tobacco Free Bent County supports the 2020 Goals of the Tobacco Education, Prevention and Cessation Grant Program to increase tobacco cessation, reduce initiation of tobacco use, decrease tobacco prevalence among youth and decrease exposure to secondhand smoke.

Bent County Public Health focus’ on several different targeted populations, such as:

  • Low SES Tobacco Users
  • Middle and High School students, 10-18 years
  • Bent County Community
  • Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

With many different GOAL areas such as:

  • Decreasing the tobacco prevalence and initiation among young adults especially low SES and straight to work young adults.
  • Promote, implement and reinforce the Las Animas School Districts Tobacco Free Schools Policy.
  • Develop and implement media campaigns to help decrease the tobacco use and increase awareness in the community.
  • Partnering with surrounding agencies to increase the amount of QUITLINE referrals.

Tobacco Header



The Colorado QuitLine connects you to a QUIT Coach, who will help you create a quit plan.

Your QUIT Coach will ask you to pick a quit date, give you tips to prepare and ideas to help make quitting easier.

You can call the QuitLine SEVEN days a week from 6a.m. – 11 p.m. (MST)