Public Health Heroes


Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, our agency has taken on many new duties, from hiring countless contract tracers to help us track the virus and limit its spread, to setting up clinics to make it easier for citizens get their vaccines. While Public Health has led these response efforts, we have not done it alone. Other county agencies, community organizations, partners, and individuals have been the key to making our efforts successful.

The Public Health Champion Awards, presented at El Paso County Board of Health meetings, are intended to honor some of these heroic people and agencies. We also want to thank every El Paso County resident who has helped us work to end the pandemic and heal our community. Thank you, El Paso County!

— MAY 2021 —

Daniel Garcia, Pikes Peak Workforce Center

Photo features Daniel Garcia, PPWFC leadership, Board of Health members, and EPCPH Director Susan Wheelan
Daniel Garcia is honored.

In early summer 2020, El Paso County Public Health vitally needed additional staffing capacity to respond to the pandemic. To facilitate more hiring, Public Health signed an agreement with the Pikes Peak Workforce Center (PPWFC) and Goodwill Staffing. PPWFC Job Coach Daniel Garcia was assigned to help Public Health. After just a few conversations, Daniel understood the public health role of Case Investigator and exactly what skills successful candidates would embody. He used a “skills-based” hiring approach to review hundreds of resumes and conduct interviews to assess candidates’ skills and gauge their potential rates of success on the job. Daniel was even able to assess the Spanish-speaking skills of bilingual candidates, a high priority early in the pandemic.

As of May 2021, Daniel has helped identify over 50 people who were hired as Case Investigators for Public Health, plus numerous other hires for the roles of front desk receptionist, data entry and administrative support. In addition to providing excellent candidate assessments and recommendations, Daniel ensured new hires were properly trained and onboarded. Because of the time he spent and his commitment to our agency, Public Health was able to quickly (and continually) build capacity for contact tracing while being able to focus on the pandemic, and not on the intricacies of the hiring process. We are extremely grateful to Daniel — and also to Erica Romero, Daniel’s supervisor, and Traci Marques, Executive Director of PPWFC — for your continued help to our agency.

Brigadier General Scott Sherman, Colorado National Guard

Brigadier General Scott Sherman serves as the Director of Joint Staff, Joint Force Headquarters, Colorado. In this role, he directly supervises the Joint Staff and is the commander of the standing Joint Task Force-Centennial, responsible for leading the Colorado National Guard’s response to domestic events. As a member of the El Paso County Vaccine Consortium, General Sherman has been instrumental in the County’s successful vaccine campaign to date. In particular, General Sherman was an important advocate for El Paso County receiving its share of the vaccine supply from the state in the early phases of the vaccine campaign (a share that was calculated based on the population and size of the county). He has also played a critical role with the Vaccine Consortium in implementing a "triple-action vaccine plan" focused on utilizing existing health care and pharmacy infrastructure, expanding large-scale clinics and mass vaccination sites, and increasing equitable access to vaccines by moving from low-barrier clinics to no-barrier clinics.

Chief James Maxon, Fountain Fire Department

Photo features Chief James Maxon, the Board of Health and EPCPH Director Susan Wheelan.
Chief James Maxon is honored.

When COVID-19 vaccines became available, El Paso County Public Health began running clinics to ensure the community had access to the vaccines. Fountain Fire Chief James Maxon and his department provided voluntary support to many of our clinics. EMS support is critical to oversee the observation area of a clinic, where those who receive vaccines wait for 15-30 minutes after receiving the shot to ensure they don’t have an adverse reaction or other medical event. Even though Fountain Fire Department was not always fully staffed, Chief Maxon assigned teams to support our clinics, often with little notice, from February 2021 to April 2021, when we were able to contract for the service. We are extremely grateful for Fountain Fire Department's support when we needed it most.