DENVER – Arapahoe County became the third and final county on Tuesday to move to leave the Tri-County Health Department, which will eventually end the relationship formed nearly 74 years ago.
Arapahoe County commissioners voted to move forward with the plan to leave the health department after a meeting and public comment Tuesday. Arapahoe was the last county of three to move to end the relationship for TCHD, which served around 1.5 million people in Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties earlier this year.
But Douglas County left the health department in September over COVID-related public health orders and measures, opting to create its own that has since implemented far fewer restrictions involving masks and other mitigation measures. Tri-County is still providing some public health services for Douglas County residents through next year.
Adams County then moved to leave the health department in October, citing Douglas County’s move as among the reasons. But the county will stay with Tri-County through December 2022 while it works to set up its own health department.
Similarly, Arapahoe County will stay in partnership with Tri-County through 2022 as it works to set up its own health department, and residents there will continue to get all public health services from Tri-County until the new health department is in place.
Arapahoe County Commission Board Chair Nancy Jackson thanked Tri-County staff in a statement after the commission’s vote for its “first-class health programs and services” and said the county was indebted to the health department.
“While many residents were unaware of the scope of a health department’s duties prior to COVID, over many decades TCHD’s employees have shown a deep commitment to providing these services,” Jackson said. “They are a first-rate example of how public health services should be modeled and we will continue to work with them over the coming months to find a workable solution for all involved parties.”
The news release from Arapahoe County commissioners said they are considering several options moving forward – “including potentially receiving health services from the TCHD entity as another type of governmental or non-governmental legal entity” starting in 2023.
The county said it will listen to input from residents and others at various levels of government on how to best move forward and that any decisions would be “fiscally sound and based on industry best practices.”