San Juan Basin Health turns 70 on Thursday

KeepHealthCare.ORG – San Juan Basin Health turns 70 on Thursday

San Juan Basin Public Health will commemorate its 70th year of protecting human and environmental well-being at an anniversary celebration from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Durango Public Library, 1900 Main Ave.

SJBPH was founded in 1948, originally organized as a health unit of the state of Colorado. The region’s first public health services included health and hygiene programs; disease-outbreak control; maternal and child health clinics; immunizations; and services for disabled children and people with respiratory conditions, heart problems and venereal diseases. The agency also inspected restaurants, food plants, slaughterhouses and dairy farms to ensure public safety.

Seventy years later, current programs and services reflect initial pillars of public health, and have expanded as information and technology continue to advance.

“It’s been amazing to learn about how things have changed, and about things that haven’t changed and are still in place today, in the way we protect environmental and public health,” said Claire Ninde, director of communications at SJBPH.

The event will feature a walk-through gallery that showcases the history of local and national public health over the past seven decades. The walk will highlight key turning points and advancements, with artifacts on display, such as old microscopes, a Geiger counter for measuring radiation and some things that staff has had trouble identifying, said Ninde.

Kids activities, a raffle for prizes, snacks and drinks will also be offered during the event, and a birthday cake will be cut by executive director Liane Jollon at 5:30 p.m. and served to attendees.

Over the years, SJBPH has established a wide base of partnerships in the area, from individual clients and health care providers to municipalities, government agencies, environmental services and community organizations, all in an effort to preserve the environment and public health.

Efforts have been focused recently, for example, on providing community-based resources and events for suicide prevention, through working with law enforcement, schools, advocacy groups and youth-services organizations.

The anniversary celebration on Thursday will arrive just in time for National Public Health Week, observed April 2-8 this year.

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