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Demand up at Aspen health agency

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Early 2009 has been a busy time at Community Health Services in Aspen, where the caseload has doubled or even tripled for certain types of service, compared to the same period last year.

According to a memo to Pitkin County commissioners from Community Health Services Director Liz Stark, the first three months of the year have brought increases in the number of patients in the prenatal-care program as well as the adult immunization program, two of the agency’s core services.

Stark will meet with commissioners Tuesday to discuss the rising demand for services, and other issues.

In the first three months of last year ” Jan. 1, 2008 through March 18, 2008 ” Stark reported in her memo, her agency administered 83 vaccines to a total of 55 adults.

In the same period this year, she wrote, her office has seen 112 adults and administered 267 vaccines.

“This is attributed to the fact that we have been providing hepatitis B vaccines to employees of local businesses,” she explained, adding that restaurants and hotels require that their employees be vaccinated.

Stark reported that her agency hired a part-time registered nurse last November and have dedicated her time to both adult and children’s immunizations

At the same time, Start wrote, her agency has handled nine pre-natal cases so far this year, compared to four over the same period in 2008. In all, her office worked on a total of 32 such cases in 2008, far more than the 20 or so cases that had been expected and more than twice the load handled in 2007, she said.

In other areas of service, Stark reported, the level of activity in 2009 has risen only slightly or has dropped somewhat.

For example, she reported, in early 2008, her office saw a total of 39 people in the “travel immunization” program, and administered 83 vaccines; so far in 2009, the number of visits tallied at 31, with 66 vaccines.

“That is not enough of a difference to draw any conclusions about people’s travel habits due to the economy,” she maintained, “but we are watching this to see if we see a significant decline.”

jcolson@aspentimes.com


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