This guest blog is authored by an alumni from the Healthier Colorado Advocacy Fellowship Program, who presently serves as the Field Organizer for the Our Denver Campaign. This blog speaks to the importance of voting YES on 2A through 2G to build the infrastructure necessary to ensure a healthy Denver for the years to come.
Health doesn’t begin and end at the doctor’s office door.
Health, rather than a goal—something that can be achieved all at once—is better understood another way: the construction of habits and preferences that prioritize our well-being, even when it may not be the easiest choice.
We build healthy lives when we play in our parks, and when we bike to the store instead of driving. We focus on our well-being when we take our mental health seriously, and when we begin to understand that the choices that are available to us are sometimes nudged by structures and systems that seem outside of the realm of what is traditionally considered health.
Here in Denver, we’ve been presented with the opportunity to push our structures and systems in a direction that prioritizes the health of all our residents. Right now, us Denverites are voting on the 2017 Denver General Obligation bond ballot measures, also known as Denver GO bonds. The measures, 2A through 2G—and yes, there are seven of them—make sure that we’re working together to take care of not only the health of our city, but our individual health too.
My own understanding of health gained new nuance as an Advocacy Fellow with Healthier Colorado.
I saw that healthcare had to mean more than access to a doctor’s office and more than just a conversation about how healthcare is provided. For instance, the moment when an individual is dealing with a mental health crisis in public. The Good Samaritan’s first impulse may be to call emergency services, which can lead to a police response. That response, though being handled by the law enforcement, is answered differently in a health context; the toolsets required to address a mental health crisis looks different from the justice perspective.
This distinction is why as part of Healthier Colorado, we pushed for—and succeeded in—the passage of a law that ended the use of jails for mental health holds and expanded resources to first responders in cases of mental health crises.
Policy and government all intersect the dimension of health. Measures 2A through 2G interact with health from this space of governance.
The community-sourced bond projects cover a wide scope of infrastructure improvements that increase the ability to move around Denver by foot or by bike. Projects like the proposed Jewell/Evans bridge over Santa Fe will help connect the east and west sides of the city for those who navigate town in ways other than cars, which will allow individuals to make healthy active transportation choices.
The bonds will also address health needs directly. Bond dollars will be used to aid in the construction of a new outpatient medical facility for Denver Health. In just two years, Denver Health expects to reach capacity at their clinics, and it’s projected that by 2024, 110,000 appointments would have to be unfulfilled due to that lack of space, provided nothing is done.
The creation of this medical center contributes to healthcare not only in helping to fulfill those appointments, but by also being a medical hub for its patients. By centralizing seventeen specialty clinics, allowing for increased collaboration and conversation among providers, we can continue to move toward a patient-centered vision of health that treats the whole person, rather than a constellation of unrelated illnesses and conditions.
More than just transportation and direct healthcare provisions, ballot measures 2A through 2G also make sure that Denver stays a fantastic city to play in as well. Bond dollars directed towards our public park and recreation facilities ensures that the ways we enjoy getting active within the city stay in good repair. Additionally, the construction of new facilities, like Westwood Recreation Center, address inequities in access to these services in traditionally underserved neighborhoods.
Ballot measures 2A through 2G engage in the work of addressing the less-than-novel concerns of our city.
Sidewalk construction and city building maintenance don’t draw the same awe-struck gasps of attention as a new tech company campus, but they impact our city just the same, perhaps even more. These seven measures offer us the chance to ensure that the hard work of keeping Denver a healthy city continues into the future, and I hope you’ll all join me in voting yes on 2A through 2G.