DENVER -- Over the course of the last year, the pandemic highlighted the divide between Douglas County and Tri-County Health on issues like mask mandates and stay at home orders.
Since then, there’s been conversations at the county level of parting ways with Tri-County Health.
"Douglas County has got a committee that is looking at creating our own health department. I imagine that this decision is going to be made in October, November," said Lora Thomas, a Douglas County commissioner.
Before any decision is made there is plenty of research to being done behind the scenes.
"We have a binder that is about five inches thick that our staff has put together about everything that Tri-County does: nutrition, WIC, nursing, environmental health. They are looking at everything that Tri-County offers to decide, what does this look like for Douglas County?" said Thomas.
Part of this process involves the creation of a public health advisory committee, comprised of nine residents who will have the chance to shape the way public health looks like in Douglas County.
"It is all really part of an effort for us to explore what are the options and opportunities for our citizens in regard to how they receive their public health service and how we address their needs." said Barbara Drake, deputy county manager for Douglas County,
This advisory board won’t make any policy decisions but their input could be valuable to commissioners when and if Douglas County leaves Tri-County Health.
It is really a comprehensive process to determine what does this look like and what is best for the residents of Douglas County.
Tri-County Health says conversations with Douglas County have been ongoing.
In a statement, they say in part, “TCHD is committed to serving the residents and businesses in Douglas County until such decision is made. Seeking community input through this advisory board is an important part of understanding what the community wants and needs in order to achieve optimal health and well-being.”
Douglas County will remain with Tri-County until at least the end of 2022. What direction the county moves in after will be the work of many within the county for months to come.