Mesa County Public Health Promotes National Breastfeeding Month

Mesa County Public Health Promotes National Breastfeeding Month

August is National Breastfeeding Month, a month dedicated to supporting mothers in reaching their breastfeeding goals.

Research shows that breastfeeding provides many health benefits for infants and mothers. Breastfeeding can help protect babies against some short- and long-term illnesses and diseases. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are less common among women who breastfeed.

However, it can be difficult to manage breastfeeding for the recommended six to twelve months. Circumstances like difficulty latching and finding space to pump breastmilk at work, make it hard for mothers to reach their goals. Mesa County Public Health houses two programs that support moms when they choose to breastfeed, The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP). Staff in both programs have special training and credentials to provide breastfeeding education, such as Certified Lactation Counselors (CLC) and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC). Staff also serve on the local Western Slope Breastfeeding Coalition which advocates for breastfeeding-friendly policies and education.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly referred to as WIC, provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and helps pay for healthy groceries. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children up to age five who meet income eligibility qualify.  Breastfeeding moms receive generous food benefits, including fresh fruits and vegetables.

WIC also provides breastfeeding moms:

  • Peer counseling
  • Virtual infant feeding groups
  • Free breast pumps

Marissa Alvarado, Mesa County WIC Educator, shared, “a Spanish-speaking mom came into the WIC clinic facing challenges with breastfeeding her premature baby. She met with our lactation consultant and one of our bilingual educators. She left the clinic with a breast pump and was more confident and assured that she was doing the best for her baby.” Alvarado reported that the mother continues to breastfeed. 

Learn eligibility information for WIC. 

Nurse-Family Partnership

Nurse-Family Partnership is a program designed specifically for first-time moms who also meet income eligibility. Trained Registered Nurses begin working with these moms early in pregnancy and stay connected until the baby turns two. The nurse stays connected with the mom until the baby is two years old. These nurses can assess breastfeeding needs and provide help in families’ homes. They’re also connected to community resources for additional breastfeeding support when needed.

“One of our clients left the hospital breastfeeding her newborn but was very unsure of how long she wanted to continue to breastfeed. She became very concerned that her milk supply was low and was quickly losing confidence in her ability to continue to exclusively breastfeed,” shared Erin Andrews, Nurse-Family Partnership Manager. Andrews continued, “Her NFP nurse made a plan with her to weigh the baby weekly to validate the new mom’s efforts and provided regular check-ins to confirm that everything was going well. The baby is still exclusively breastfeeding at 2 months!”

Learn about eligibility information for Nurse-Family Partnership.

Media Contact:  Alli Howe  970-697-4611


Over 1,000 Mesa County Families Apply for Universal Preschool

Over 1,000 Mesa County Families Apply for Universal Preschool

Media Contact: Sarah Gray 970-697-4611


Update on Universal Preschool

More than 1,000 applications have been submitted in Mesa County for Universal Preschool in preparation for its launch in August. This program provides a tuition credit for nine months of high-quality preschool.

“We’re excited that so many families have signed up for this great opportunity,” said Stephanie Bivins, the Director of Mesa County Partnership for Children and Families. “Access to quality early childhood education ensures children have the foundation they need to enter kindergarten.”

Approximately 68% of the available slots have been filled, however, there is still time to apply.


Local Impact

The program will save child care costs for families so they can apply the cost savings to other living expenses. The program also injects millions of dollars into our community, helping build a stronger economy in Mesa County. Local providers, such as school districts, centers, and home-based child care facilities will get approximately 7 million dollars in tuition credits. The funding goes straight to the provider, including small businesses owners. Some of the providers participating have never had access to this type of funding. There is even a new Universal Preschool Provider Grant that helps with start-up costs for things like curriculum and equipment.


How to Apply

Families can apply at Once on the site, click on register for UPK services. It is a short application process, and families can choose multiple providers that they prefer. For those who do not have a current provider, or do not who is participating, they are able to browse the system. After applying, families will receive a notification if they are eligible. They will also receive a notification once they have been matched with a provider, and can then accept or decline the match. 

Mesa County Partnership for Children and Families, or PCF, is coordinating Universal Preschool in Mesa County. The team is available to guide families through the process and answer questions along the way. Call them at 970-248-2811 or visit their website.


Universal Preschool Background

Universal Preschool is a tuition credit for nine months of preschool starting this August. It’s a voluntary program that you can access at any participating provider; school districts, private providers, and home facilities.  The program expands access to preschool and is a cost savings for local families. 

Along with cost savings, it provides significant long-term benefits for children. “Early childhood is the most rapid time in human development and sets the stage for children’s futures, ” said Bivins.  “Research shows children accessing high-quality preschool in the first few years of life are more likely to complete higher levels of education.”

All children in Colorado can apply the year before kindergarten and are eligible for 15 hours of  preschool. Some 4-year-olds might qualify for more hours and some 3-year-olds can access the program with a school district. There are other programs that might cover additional costs and extended hours. 

Testing and Treatment Available for Syphilis at Public Health Clinic

Testing and Treatment Available for Syphilis at Public Health Clinic

Local and State Situation

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, (CDPHE), Mesa County is seeing an increase in syphilis cases. In 2022, the county reported 43.8% more cases than the average from 2019 to 2021. The number of syphilis cases statewide has also been steadily increasing over the last five years.

Testing and Treatment Available

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) provides testing and treatment for syphilis. Our nurses are experts in current recommendations. They can also provide education on prevention of all sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

Call 970-248-6900 to schedule an appointment in our Public Health Clinic. We accept all types of insurance and have a low-cost screening program as well. We can work with people who are uninsured or underinsured, so don’t let cost be a barrier.


Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is usually spread by sexual contact. It can cause serious health problems without treatment. Treatment is simple and effective.

Mesa County Public Health Seeks Input on Master Plan for Trails

Mesa County Public Health Seeks Input on Master Plan for Trails

Media Contact: Sarah Gray 970-697-4611


The Trail Crew at Mesa County Public Health is developing a master plan for the Gunnison Bluffs and Old Spanish Trail areas. We are holding community pop-up events to gather direct input from community members and users of the trail system.  


Details for Pop-Up Events

  • Thursday, June 1 from 5-6:30 p.m. at the North Trailhead.
  • Saturday, June 3 from 8-10 a.m. at the Coffman Road Trailhead.

During these two events, there will be people on site passing out surveys on the trail system. We want to engage people directly on site and ask them a few simple questions to help shape the long-term plan for these trails.

If you are unable to attend the in-person events, share your ideas by taking our online survey. You can use a computer or a phone. 


The Gunnison Bluffs and Old Spanish Trail areas are south of the Mesa County Landfill. The overall goals for the project include rerouting steep and unsustainable trail sections, adding easier trail experiences and more loop options, adding better signage, and doing maintenance on existing trails.

Mesa County Public Health wants to create more trail-based recreation opportunities in our area. We want to make our trails accessible to everyone, and encourage local residents to use them. Outdoor recreation improves physical and mental health, and contributes to the overall well-being of our community.

Mesa County Public Health Celebrates Healthy and Safe Swimming Week

Mesa County Public Health Celebrates Healthy and Safe Swimming Week

Media Contact: Sarah Gray 970-697-4611


Swimming pools and splash pads are central to summer fun. Our team helps pool operators maintain safe and healthy swimming pools. We inspect all public pools and spas in Mesa County every year. Last year, our team completed 87 inspections of pools, hot tubs, and other aquatic facilities.

We want people to have a healthy and positive experience this summer at water destinations in Mesa County. We work with these local facilities to make sure they are operating safely so you and your family can swim without getting sick or injured.


Most Common Germs in the Water

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common germs that cause swimming-related illnesses include Cryptosporidium (Crypto), Legionella, Norovirus, E. coli, and Giardia. Most of these germs are transmitted through poop. Chlorine kills most bacteria within minutes, however, some germs can live in the pool for days. Swallowing even a small amount of contaminated water can make people sick. 


Effective Prevention

The best way to protect everyone is to keep these germs out of the water. Do not swim if you are sick, especially if you have diarrhea. If you or your children have been sick with diarrhea in the last two weeks, you should stay out of the water. It’s also a good idea to shower before you swim.  While at the pool, don’t swallow any water while swimming. We recommend that parents take kids on regular bathroom breaks and check diapers every hour. While our team inspects public pools and aquatic facilities, make sure to treat your pool and hot tub at home as well.

Visit our website to learn more about inspections, and how to make sure your home pool and spa are safe.

Stay Updated With What’s Going Around Mesa County

Stay Updated With What’s Going Around Mesa County

Media Contact: Sarah Gray 970-697-4611


Even though the cold and flu season is coming to an end, our team continues to monitor what is going around Mesa County during the spring and summer. There are several seasonal illnesses we can see in our region as people are spending more time outside. 

“Our team cares about the health of the community year round,” said Rachel Burmeister, the Disease Surveillance and Emergency Response Manager. “Some of the more common illnesses that we see during the spring and the summer may be due to exposures that are associated with that time of year. For example recreating in water, eating foods that may not be kept cold, or coming into contact with animals that spread disease.  Prevention is key when it comes to keeping people safe and healthy heading into summer.”


West Nile Virus

  • What is it: West Nile Virus is spread to humans by mosquito bites. Many people who get the virus do not realize they have it;others can develop symptoms like fever, headache, body aches, or a rash. There is no treatment for West Nile Virus, so prevention is crucial. We work closely with the Grand River Mosquito Control District to monitor mosquito activity in our community. Most human cases of West Nile Virus are reported in August and September, when mosquito activity is at its peak. We expect there to be more mosquitos locally this year because of the wet winter.
  • What are Local Trends: 2022 was a severe year for West Nile Virus in Colorado. Mesa County had four cases of the virus, however surrounding counties had the highest rates of West Nile Virus in the state. Statewide, 20 people died from the virus.



  • What is it: This virus is carried primarily by deer mice, which can be found in Mesa County. People can get infected by inhaling airborne particles of the virus.
  • What are Local Trends: This disease is rare, however, it can be dangerous for those who become infected. Between 1993 and 2021, there were 119 confirmed cases in Colorado. Out of these cases, 41 were fatal. During this same timeframe, there were three cases in Mesa County.


Animal Bites

  • What are they: In Colorado, animal bites are reportable because of the concern of people being exposed to rabies. Rabies is fatal once symptoms develop so people who are bitten by some wild animals should get a post-exposure vaccine.
  • What are Local Trends: In Mesa County, the number of animal bites has increased over the past year. We work closely with Mesa County Animal Services to follow up on these reports when there is a concern of rabies exposure. Most bites involve cats or dogs, but we also get reports of people bitten by bats, raccoons, coyotes, and other wildlife.



With these seasonal illnesses, prevention is crucial. Visit our website to learn tips for staying safe and healthy.