Douglas County will continue to receive all services from Tri-County Health Department until at least the end of 2022 after the two entities came to an agreement that was approved by the county commissioners during a Sept. 28 work session.
The county will still have its own board of health in charge of things like county-wide public health orders, but the residents will receive services “as though the county were still a member of TCHD,” according to an agreement between the two entities.
The county will continue to pay its proportional share of the cost of Tri-County services, according to the agreement. In 2021, the county paid $2.5 million for services, according to a spokesperson.
“Nothing could be less political than this decision today,” said Commissioner Abe Laydon in a business meeting later that day.
The commissioners officially voted on Sept. 7 to form their own health department after Tri-County’s Board of Health decided to no longer allow any entities to opt out of public health orders and put in place a mask mandate for all students. That order is still in place until the county’s new board of health meets.
The new board of health is set to meet Thursday, according to a county spokesperson.
“Gratitude is a good word to use for how I feel right now,” Commissioner Lora Thomas said in the business meeting.
The agreement comes after Tri-County and “the other members of TCHD” challenged the county’s legal ability to leave the health department without the usual a one-year advance notice, according to the agreement between Tri-County and Douglas County.
The terms of the negotiation are “in exchange for accepting and not further challenging the county’s withdrawal,” according to the contract.
Adams and Arapahoe counties’ relationships with Tri-County will remain the same until at least 2022.
The contract states that Tri-County could continue services for Douglas County into future years as well.
Under the cost agreement, the county will also be required to pay a “proportional share” of any expenses if Tri-County dissolves in 2022 or 2023. That includes costs from layoffs, unemployment, temporary employees and others.
Outside of those costs, the county will be required to pay up to $360,000 in any expenses associated with their withdrawal.
“We recognize that there are costs associated with the departure from TCHD and this ensures that each party pays their fair share,” according to a statement from Douglas County Commissioners. “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.”
This agreement means there will no longer be any board of health representatives for Douglas County on the Tri-County Board of Health.
Services that will continue include restaurant inspections, nutrition counseling, maternal and child health services and disease control, among others.
“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 Jennifer Ludwig, Tri-County’s Deputy Director, according to a news release from the agency.
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