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Douglas County Commissioners take steps to formalize creation of a County Public Health Agency

Notice to Withdraw issued to Tri-County Health. Formal hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 7 at 4 p.m.

As of Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, effective with Board direction to staff during a recorded work session, the Board of Douglas County Commissioners is one step closer to withdrawing from the governance of the Tri-County Health Department, and establishing its own single-county public health agency, with no interruption in quality services.

By creating its own, single-county public health agency that provides or contracts for public health services, Douglas County would create a new, localized public health governance model, while maintaining continuity of public health services for Douglas County. Douglas County, Colorado has been exploring options and opportunities related to alternative means for the delivery of public health services for the County for several months, working with public health experts, an internal working group, as well as community members appointed to a new Public Health Advisory Committee.

Following Board discussion and seeking input from staff during the work session, a motion offered by Board Chair, County Commissioner Abe Laydon, asked for a motion that would direct the County Attorney to draft and submit a letter to the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) regarding creation of the Douglas County Health Department. Commissioner Laydon also asked that the motion would direct the County Manager to work with TCHD on a mutually acceptable but speedy separation that would allow for local control over public health and a continuity of services. Commissioner Teal made the motion and Commissioner Thomas seconded the motion.

Commissioner Lora Thomas, Board Vice Chair spoke in favor of this motion adding: “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.”

Commissioner George Teal, who also spoke in favor of the motion, directed the County Attorney “to inform TCHD that we do intend to part from Tri-County, with the provision and that the notification also include recognition of the fact that the July 2020 notification is in fact still valid and that we are therefore beyond the one year notification.”

Commissioner Laydon further offered an additional amendment to the motion asking that the letter clarify, consistent with the County Attorney’s counsel that as a result of the direct action by the TCHD Board to unilaterally remove the County opt-out provision in TCHD policy during their meeting on Monday, Aug. 31, a condition precedent to Douglas County remaining with Tri-County Health, the County’s agreement with TCHD was breached, and thus revives the County’s July 10, 2020 notice to withdraw.

Commissioner Laydon also asked that a public statement be issued that educates the public on the actions that were taken today and that it includes the Board of County Commissioners’ interpretation that the unilateral mask order on Monday is not enforceable. Commissioners unanimously supported the motion.

Additionally, during the work session, Commissioner George Teal offered a motion directing staff to draft a resolution withdrawing from TCHD and forming a Douglas County Public Health Agency that will be heard during a Special Business Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. This motion was also approved by unanimous vote of the Board of County Commissioners.   

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