Teton County Health Director Talks Mental Health, 2021 Community Needs

Jodie Pond discusses the county's main priority areas for the coming year.
This year, the Teton County Health Department partnered with St. John's to determine the greatest community health needs in Jackson Hole. (Will Walkey/KHOL)

by | Jul 6, 2021 | COVID-19, Health

Teton County recently released its Community Health Needs Assessment for this year. The survey gathered data from over 1,500 people in order to assess the greatest public health concerns among the Jackson Hole community. KHOL asked Jodie Pond, director of the Teton County Health Department, about some of her major takeaways from the assessment. The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

JODIE POND: I think the main takeaway this year, obviously, is that mental health is the number one prioritized health issue on the health conditions and behavior side. And then again, this year, we prioritized the social needs and social determinants of health separately because those are more complex issues that need multiple partners at the table to address those issues.

In Teton County, we have a big disparity in income, and I think that drives a lot of the other issues. Our steering committee talked a lot about that in terms of when folks have to work multiple jobs, and the cost of housing is so high, that affects whether or not they can afford insurance and whether or not they can afford food. So, food insecurity is one of our social needs as well.


WILL WALKEY: And so what are some things that you view as in your control that you’d like to improve in terms of community health?

POND: From the public health side, and specifically in the health department, alcohol use is something that we—and nicotine use—have a program that we receive funding for. Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and suicide prevention. And so there’s a coalition that’s addressing those issues in our community. Immunizations, whether that be COVID immunizations this year or immunizations in general, especially among our 65 and older [population]. We have a plan for immunizations in general, and we offer immunizations to the community. And then sexual and reproductive health also made the list this year. And again, we have a grant from the Wyoming Department of Health to work on HIV and other STDs.

WALKEY: Obviously, local health care, which you help lead, is just one piece of the puzzle in terms of community health. You also get a lot of funding from the state and the federal governments, which is constantly changing. Did the Community Health Needs Assessment tell you anything in terms of how the state and potentially federal governments can help you to better improve community health in Jackson Hole?

POND: I think that there will be an opportunity around mental health with some of the federal dollars coming out. So, we’ll see how that trickles down and what the state does with some of their funding that they get. Because I know that mental health was cut at a state level, and [we’ll see] whether or not they’ll be able to backfill any of those programs with any of the state funds. So, I’m just kind of waiting to see how all that plays out and whether that trickles down to Teton County in terms of additional resources that are needed.

WALKEY: Jodie, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to KHOL.

POND: Okay, thank you so much.


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About Will Walkey

Will is KHOL's first full-time reporter and producer. Originally from Tacoma, Washington, he recently graduated from Columbia University with a Master's Degree in journalism. He likes to read and write about housing, local politics, and history, and spends most of his free time fishing or biking. He's excited to be living in Wyoming, and looks forward to honing in on his unique radio voice by highlighting the locals that make Jackson special. Contact Will with tips at will@jhcr.org, and follow him on Twitter at @WillWalkey.

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