Access to top-quality doctors and the latest hospital treatments is vital to community-wide health and wellness, but there are other factors that are also essential to maintaining a healthy community. Boulder Community Health (BCH) partners with Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) on a regular basis to thoughtfully address a broad range of issues that impact personal and public health.

The two organizations have worked on multiple fronts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to keep local residents educated about the evolving status of illness in the county and changing recommendations for staying safe. Both organizations have provided regular community updates via email and their websites. At the local height of the epidemic, their leaders -- Dr. Robert Vissers, President/CEO of BCH and Jeff Zayach, executive director of BCPH -- participated regularly in Boulder City Council meetings, providing timely information and answering questions.

Last month, BCH and BCPH, along with diagnostic testing developer Biodesix, Inc. and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), launched a coordinated effort to expand access to free COVID-19 testing for underserved and at-risk population groups across Boulder County. The new initiative reaches county residents who do not have equitable access to testing services, including the Latinx community, those experiencing homelessness, individuals age 65 or older, and people living in the Peak-to-Peak areas of the county.

Lack of financial resources and transportation are major impediments to accessing COVID testing for many underserved populations. The BCH-BCPH partnership takes free testing directly to the people who need it most. Boulder County is covering program costs and BCPH is coordinating the testing events at locations across the county. BCH staff collect the lab specimens and Biodesix, through an agreement with CDPHE, processes the tests.

BCH and BCPH have cooperated for decades on scores of lower-profile but impactful health and wellness initiatives. Currently, BCH and BCPH work in concert to support local residents struggling with drug addiction through coordinated services and community-wide policy. The BCH Prevention, Intervention, Life-Long Alternatives & Recovery (PILLAR) program and BCPH’s The Works Program provide a complementary range of needed services to minimize the spread of communicable diseases among those who inject drugs, and routinely refer community members to each other’s services.

BCH and BCPH are also key members of the Boulder County Breastfeeding Coalition, which works to create a breastfeeding-friendly community by supporting worksites, public venues, childcare providers, and medical professionals in meeting the needs of breastfeeding mothers and babies.

Thanks to the coalition, employers across the county have created more family-friendly workplaces that can attract, retain, and engage working mothers with infants. The businesses enjoy reduced rates of absenteeism due to infant illness, lower turnover and improved employee productivity and loyalty.

More information about this wide-ranging initiative is available at https://www.bouldercounty.org/families/pregnancy/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-coalition/