Health conference set to share ideas, information

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— The health of the people of Colorado is only as good as the ability of public health providers in the state to work together and share new ideas, representatives of local and state public health organizations said Wednesday.

Health professionals from all over the state will have a chance to do that next Wednesday as the Colorado Public Health Association and Public Health Nursing Association of Colorado kicks off their annual conference at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

"This is a chance for us to share what we know with other people who might have a different way of doing things," said Marilyn Bouldin, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association director of community care. "We have an opportunity here to identify and utilize our gifts."

The conference's theme, "Thriving Communities: Harnessing Gifts, Nurturing Partnerships," reflects the public health community's desire to bring positive change to the state's public health by combining individual strengths, Bouldin said.

The VNA tries to send a few of its nurses to the conference every year, but this year's location in Steamboat Springs will improve that number, she said.

Bouldin said she expects representation from all kinds of health professions in the state.

Lynne Oldham, a health educator at Yampa Valley Regional Hospital, and Yampa Valley Partners Executive Director Audrey Danner will offer their expertise at a Friday roundtable discussion.

Christy Geno, director of CPHA's public health marketing, said conference attendees will have numerous opportunities to network and improve their knowledge of public health issues through constant dialogue about what works and what does not work.

"It draws together communities in Colorado because eastern and western range public health issues can be different, and the solutions can be different," Geno said. "Many different parts of the state get a chance to give and take on what they're doing differently."

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak will address conference attendees at a Wednesday evening dinner.

Stahoviak said her small part in the conference would allow her to thank county public health providers for their commitment to improving the health of residents.

"A lot of people in the community access those services," she said. "I don't know what we would do without them."

Members of the two associations include public health nurses who serve residents or counties throughout the state, employees of local public health departments and county public health nursing services and representatives of various other health and public health organizations in Colorado.

This year's conference might be more in tune with public concerns than in previous years, Bouldin said.

"In light of recent events, there have been a lot of new developments relative to public health," she said.

CPHA and PHNA members pay $155, non-members pay $205,and students pay $95 for the three-day conference.

Those who can only attend one day of the conference can pay a special $45 fee.

Anyone interested in learning more about public health or ways to improve public health in Colorado is encouraged to attend the conference and can register online at www.coloradopublichealthassociation.org.

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