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DougCo moves to formally exit Tri-County Health

A special meeting is set for Sept. 7 to discuss the issue further.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — The Douglas County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to formally move forward with a separation from the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) which has served the county for 55 years.

Their goal is to establish their own single-county public health agency.

For several months, Douglas County has been exploring options and opportunities related to alternative means for the delivery of public health services for the county. They're working with public health experts, an internal working group, as well as community members appointed to a new Public Health Advisory Committee.

RELATED: Counties can no longer opt out of Tri-County Health's school mask mandate

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.

During a work session Monday, the commissioner asked the county attorney to draft a letter to TCHD regarding the creation of the Douglas County Health Department. They also directed the county manager to work with TCHD on a "mutually acceptable but speedy separation" that would allow for local control over public health and continuity of services. 

“Our Board is aware that Douglas County has paid Tri-County Health for their services through the end of this year. We look forward to working with them as they continue to provide services to our residents while our Board creates a Board of Health that will provide the governance, while they provide the services," said Commissioner Lora Thomas.

RELATED: DougCo Commissioner clarifies current relationship with Tri-County Health

During Monday's meeting, Commissioner Abe Laydon said he believed that when TCHD rescinded its opt-out option on Monday its agreement with the county was breached. As a condition of remaining with the department, the two sides agreed to the opt-out provision.

A formal hearing on the issue is set for Tuesday at 4 p.m.

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