Colorado Board of Pharmacy Passes Adams County Health Department’s Proposal to Improve Access to Health and Pharmacy Services for Rural Residents and Other Medically Underserved Communities

The Colorado State Board of Pharmacy passed a regulatory proposal Adams County Health Department (ACHD) initially proposed that increases access to healthcare and pharmacy services in medically underserved and rural communities.

The proposal, which passed unanimously, allows residents to receive contraception, medication for the treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and other related prescription medications through mobile clinic access points. Under current state rules, local public health agencies and other healthcare clinics across Colorado are not able to dispense prescription medications or contraception outside of their physical clinic locations or brick-and-mortar clinics, limiting mobile services and reducing access to care where people live and work. In Adams County, these rules mean residents may need to travel long distances to access health programs specifically aimed at low-income, marginalized, and rural communities. In some cases, residents qualifying for these programs travel many hours to and from parts of Adams County to clinic locations to receive important health and pharmacy services.

“We believe this policy change will help improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities within Adams County by improving residents’ access to healthcare and pharmacy services where it is most convenient for them,” Dr. Kelly Weidenbach, Executive Director, ACHD said. “In the short term, it will lead to a reduction in rates of syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV, and in the long term, this policy change enables healthcare providers to consider more options for providing mobile health services statewide. The implications are broad.” With this change, rural Adams County residents and residents in other medically underserved communities will now have greater access to place-based, patient-centered services, medical testing, and appropriate prescription treatment at a single visit without the need to travel, find childcare, or visit a pharmacy. Furthermore, these rule changes allow local public health agencies and other clinics statewide to reconsider and reconceptualize delivery of healthcare and pharmacy services, allowing them to bring care directly to residents.  

Staff from ACHD expects these regulatory changes to increase overall access of healthcare to county residents, reduce infections from communicable diseases, and reduce unwanted pregnancy, while maintaining important safety and oversight for dispensing prescription medications. Other local public health agencies across the state voiced their support for this important proposal, including Arapahoe, Delta, Jefferson, La Plata, Larimer, and Weld counties as well as the City and County of Broomfield.

The rule was officially adopted on March 16, 2024, and is now in effect.

Interviews available by request.