DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — The Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) will continue to provide core services to Douglas County as it moves to separate and form its own health department.
As part of an intergovernmental agreement signed by the two sides on Sept. 25, TCHD will provide those services through the end of 2022.
The agreement comes after Douglas County decided to leave the TCHD to form its own health department.
Douglas County joined TCHD in 1966 and made a prior commitment to remain part of the agency through Dec. 31, 2022. More than a year ago in July 2020, there were talks about splitting with the department after health orders were put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Those issues recently resurfaced when mask mandates were put in place for young students in schools by TCHD in mid-August. TCHD initially had an opt-out provision, but rescinded that order and replaced it with a new order that does not have that opt-out provision. That move came after both Douglas County and Adams County chose to opt out. Arapahoe County had a vote on the issue scheduled.
In the interim, Douglas County still needs the services TCHD provides until the new health department can provide those services or decides to continue to contract public health services.
“This agreement benefits all parties, but mainly ensures there is no gap in services for the residents of Douglas County,” said Dr. John Douglas, TCHD executive director. “It also allows TCHD employees to focus on service delivery without distraction and provides some stability.”
The agreement provides that TCHD continue providing core public services such as environmental Health – which includes inspections, consumer protections and hazardous materials, WIC – which provides food and healthcare safeguards for low-income women and children, disease control and investigations, vital records, nursing services such as sexual health and immunizations and more.
“This agreement provides fiscal stability and ensures continuity of core public health services for all three counties while the counties determine their next steps,” said TCHD Deputy Director Jennifer Ludwig.
The agreement also ensures that Douglas County pays for services in 2022 and will cover costs associated with leaving TCHD.
“We recognize that there are costs associated with the departure from TCHD and this ensures that each party pays their fair share,” the Board of Douglas County Commissioners said. “We also acknowledge that TCHD is a leader in public health services and we want to ensure that Douglas County residents continue to have excellent public health services well into the future.”
Finally, the agreement allows Douglas County to control public health policy for the county and TCHD to operate autonomously without direction from the Douglas County Board of Health. At the signing of the agreement, Douglas County will no longer have any seats on the TCHD Board of Health.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Politics