A Conversation With … Brene Belew-LaDue
March 18, 2008
Ensuring the health of the community is the job of Grand County Public Health Nursing Service and its Director Brene Belew-LaDue, RN.Tucked away behind the Hot Sulphur Springs Library on Moffat Avenue, the Public Health Nurses office is small but a very busy place where immunizations, wellness checks and education go hand in hand.Brene has been the nursing services director for the past four and one-half years, but has worked with the Grand Countys and other Public Health Nursing offices for the past 14 years. A registered nurse for more than 23 years, Brene worked in pediatric oncology prior to entering public health. In that medical field, she cared for young cancer patients at childrens hospitals in Denver, Los Angeles and Dallas. What is the mission of the Grand County Public Health Nursing Service?Basically, this offices mission is to protect and promote the health and well-being of Grand Countys communities, families and individuals. Our motto is that we never stop trying to protect your health. We handle about 3,000 local residents with our services annually.To do all that, we have three RNs on duty, a WIC (Women, Infants and Children) education coordinator, a couple of administrative assistants and an interpreter/community education person.Along with providing immunizations, we also investigate, educate and work to prevent communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, measles and pertussis (whooping cough). We work with the Grand County Office of Emergency Management for local emergency preparedness in case of things like wildfires, but mostly we would deal with communicable diseases such as pandemic flu.You mentioned the WIC program. What does it do?We hold a WIC clinic here at our Hot Sulphur Springs office on Tuesdays. We also hold once-a-month clinics in Fraser and Kremmling. WIC is for children birth to 5 years old who have identified nutrition deficits as well as for pregnant, breast-feeding mothers and post-partum mothers.When the children come in, our RNs check their immunization records and give them immunizations as needed. Our WIC educator also checks on housing and nutritional problems the children or mothers may be experiencing. We are also looking at other areas where we can make referrals to find them the help they may need.To enter the WIC program, the children and mothers must qualify financially. One of its goals is to ensure they get the nutritious foods they need. Its a federal program and were lucky here because the county gives additional support.Currently, our office is handling a caseload of about 140 children and mothers in our WIC program.What other programs are sponsored by the Grand County Health Nursing Service?One of our RNs, Gale VanBockern, goes to all eight of the daycare centers in the county to do consultations once a month. She helps to educate the directors and staffs of those centers on all sorts of things ranging from the use of sunscreen, nutrition and immunizations. She also has consultations with people who provide daycare in their home, teaching them CPR and universal precautions.Another of our RNs, Ellen Stone, handles our Prenatal Clinic for pregnant women. She does risk assessments of the moms and helps get them the care they need through Medicaid. Ellen is also our Maternal Child Health Coordinator to look after newborns and their moms.Jan Carrasco is our immunizations nurse who holds one or two immunization clinics per week. She also holds immunization clinics at the local schools for those students who need them, and gives immunizations to adults for tetanus, pertussis and hepatitis B as well as handling our annual flu shot program. She also follows up on those with communicable diseases like whooping cough to find who they made contact with or were exposed to.Along with your offices main programs, what other subsidiary programs are you handling?Were involved in the health insurance programs like PAINS (Partners for Adults In Need of Services) and ACHES (Advocacy for Childrens Health & Education Services). In addition, our office is involved in dental health, and weve been working with Silks Dental Hygiene and Winter Park Dental to offer dental care for children. This past year, we got the University of Colorados Smile Makers Dental Van to come up to treat 181 local children who wouldnt have gotten dental care otherwise. We also had the Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics medical van come up in 2007. The van handled over a hundred children that were not covered under Medicaid.Our office has made great strides reaching out to our local Spanish-speaking population with our full-time interpreter Ceclia Peterson, who has done an outstanding job with community education.What issues do you expect your office to be dealing with in the future?The most recent Grand County Health Assessment showed that the No. 1 issue that the public is concerned about is access to care. Our ACHES and PAINS programs are just little steps toward a bigger solution thats needed.Another big concern for the future here in Grand County is environmental health issues such as water and air quality. I also think emergency preparedness is going to be big. We will need to educate people more and more on things like wildfires, pandemic flu and floods. For more information on the Grand County Public Health Nursing Services, call its Hot Sulphur Springs office at 725-3288.