Following a thorough discussion about why San Juan Basin Public Health had pursued COVID policies in the manner they did — a presentation that took up about half of the hour-ling discussion on May 24, SJBPH Executive Director Liane Jollon wanted to address some non-COVID questions that the Archuleta county commissioners had sent her previously.
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I got the impression that all of the questions had been provided by Commissioner Warren Brown.
The first question concerned an herbal product known as ‘kratom’. A problem in Archuleta County?
From the federal Drug Enforcement Administration website:
What is it? Leaves from the tropical tree, Kratom, in Southeast Asia. Causes stimulant and sedative effects in different doses. More commonly abused in the Asia Pacific region than the United States. Street Names: Thang, kakuam, thom, ketum, and biak,
How does it affect the body?Kratom dosage: At low doses, increased alertness, physical energy, and talkativeness. At high doses, sedation. Causes hallucinations, delusion, confusion, nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination, and loss of appetite. Long-term use can cause anorexia, weight loss, and insomnia.
The most common pronunciation appears to be ‘KRAT-om’.
“We have not had reports of acute adverse reactions to kratom at any of our local hospitals. So we do not have any record of kratom acute health effects in our local communities. We’re aware that kratom acceptability is growing around the state, and have been paying careful attention to what this could mean in a local community…
“I’m guessing you’re aware that the FDA did issue a warning, advising individuals not to use kratom, and their reasons for it…” You can read an FDA advisory here.
Ms. Jollon noted that the Colorado legislature passed a law this year, prohibiting the sale of kratom to persons under the age of 21. Kratom remains legal in the state of Colorado except for the towns of Parker and Monument. Moreover, in 2017, the City of Denver has restricted the use of kratom for human consumption. It is still legal to sell and possess it, as long as it’s labeled accordingly and no advice on its use is given.
The next question concerned youth vaping, and Ms. Jollon noted that Colorado has a relatively high rate of youth vaping, compared to other states.
“We were hoping, working with our partners in local public health, that the state of Colorado would pass some legislation around banning flavored nicotine products, statewide. And folks are aware that that legislation did fail in the session. There is discussion around this coming back to the legislature for potentially next session. In the meantime, similar to kratom, local jurisdictions can work through this, and of course, public health would support any local jurisdiction that was interested in passing its own ordinances…”
SJBPH also distributes information about how to quit, should a person become addicted to nicotine products.
The third question from the BOCC was related to ‘Man Therapy’.
“I’m assuming the question about ‘Man Therapy’ is around the actual term? There is a national campaign that is named, ‘Man Therapy’, and the state of Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention had interfaced with this national effort called ‘Man Therapy’ —and promotes ‘Man Therapy’ materials through teh Office of Suicide Prevention.
“It’s called ‘Man Therapy’ — but it’s really an outreach and prevention campaign, rather than a delivering of therapy…”
The initiative called ‘Man Therapy’, originally conceived in Colorado by marketing firm Cactus, “uses humor to cut through what experts say is a tendency among men to avoid seeking help”
“If you’re asking, in context, whether we offer therapy for targeted populations, SJBPH is not a behavioral health provider, so we do the ‘outreach’ side of suicide, not the treatment of mental health…”
“The reason I asked this question is that, SJBPH is rather involved in mental health as far as funding, and as far as supporting these programs that come out to our community, specifically with COVID, and in the meantime, I think there are folks who might be falling through the cracks. And I just wanted to make sure I understand what SJBPH is doing to support these kinds of outreach for this targeted group. Because it’s something… I’ve not really heard of anything locally. I’ve read of this elsewhere, but it’s almost as if it doesn’t exist here locally. And I’m sure it does.
“…But the folks who are here today, or who might be listening via Zoom, that might, themselves, or might know someone who could use these services.”
Ms. Jollon noted that the ‘first line of defense’ regarding mental health issues in Archuleta County is Axis Health Systems.
The final question for Ms. Jollon dealt with a controversial event, last year, when a representative from SJBPH attended a meeting of students at Pagosa Springs High School and invited students to participate in an effort to get teens to get vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Some reports of this event indicated that the particular SJBPH representative had not received official permission to attend the student meeting.
Ms. Jollon noted that the chosen COVID strategy, nationally, was the development of a vaccine and its national availability and acceptance. (Other approaches, such as improving individual immune resilience through diet and supplements were generally dismissed by the public health industry, although Ms. Jollon didn’t address this aspect of the pandemic.)
“As schools were trying to return and retain in-person learning, there were some benchmarks for vaccination of the school population to maintain in-person learning that were set by the state. So when we were funded by some outside federal money, independent of the state, and in that program, we chose a project to have peer-to-peer, from school age children to other school age children around why vaccine was important for keeping in-person learning, for keeping extracurricular activities, for not spreading severe illness to other family members…
“And one of the less-well-known tragedies of this pandemic is that we have hundreds of thousands of children across the U.S. who have lost their primary caregiver…”
We can recognize the pain felt by a child who lost a primary caregiver during the COVID crisis.
Ms. Jollon might be exaggerating, however, when she says “hundreds of thousands”. A report published by the National Institutes of Health in October 2021 put the number at about 120,000 children who lost a primary caregiver as a result of COVID. The report did not compare that number to, for example, the number of children who lost a primary caregiver in 2019, prior to the COVID crisis.
Overall, the study shows that approximately 1 out of 500 children in the United States has experienced COVID-19-associated orphanhood or death of a grandparent caregiver.
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