Improving population health in El Paso County through community action

March 18, 2022

El Paso County Public Health’s (EPCPH) public health planner works hand in hand with community partners to gather information and data related to health issues within El Paso County, which is then used to inform and build an effective community-driven health improvement plan. 

Identifying and addressing health priorities through the community health assessment and planning process 

The Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is a long-term, systematic effort to address issues identified by the Community Health Assessment (CHA). A strong CHIP can be used by other agencies in the community to identify local community health needs and priorities. EPCPH, along with all local public health agencies in Colorado, is required by Senate Bill 194 to complete a CHIP for the community each serves. EPCPH is also required to complete a CHIP every five years by the Public Health Accreditation Board.  

Collaborating with partners to create a community-driven plan  

In order to facilitate this process and create a CHIP that meet the needs of the community, EPCPH convenes a stakeholder group called the Healthy Community Collaborative (HCC). The HCC is a group of community partners who have been working together since 2011 to implement strategies identified in the El Paso County CHIP. The HCC consists of over 60 representatives from schools, hospitals and health systems, non-profit organizations, city and county government agencies, public health, medical providers, and interested citizens.  

Driving progress through shared goals and objectives 

From the CHA, the HCC built a goal for the community to work toward. This goal was to increase healthy life expectancy for all in El Paso County by offering opportunities and removing barriers that prevent people from achieving optimal health. In the 2018-2022 CHIP, there were two key priority areas identified:  

  • Reverse the upward trend of obesity across the lifespan by addressing its root causes 
  • Decrease the incidence of poor mental health and substance use and misuse.  

Following the disruptions due to COVID-19, in 2021 our agency was able to reconvene and re-engage the HCC Steering Committee to inform and support the engagement of HCC. 

What comes next? 

In 2021, EPCPH—along with partners across the HCC—began the planning process to develop the next iteration of our Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan that will begin in 2023. These efforts helped partners focus on collecting and analyzing health data that will allow us to identify the top health concerns in El Paso County and identify the most effective strategies to address these issues.