Douglas County Takes a Monumental Step to Leave Tri-County Health

Douglas County Takes a Monumental Step to Leave Tri-County Health

But opponents argue this split is fueled by politics and will cost the county millions. “Tri-County Health not only is not accountable, but won’t even listen to us,” said another caller during the virtual and in-person meeting on Tuesday. Lloyd Guthrie calls it a cultural shift of challenging science and common sense.

The move Tuesday is one everyone saw coming, accelerated by ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, including masks in public schools, lockdowns and other pandemic-exacerbated issues. “Douglas County is not the small, little county of 5,000 that it was in the mid-60’s,” Teal said. “Tri-County has had a focus on Adams and Arapahoe counties. We were along for the ride, but it wasn’t really our plan.”

“We’ve seen an increase in domestic violence, suicide, addiction and abuse,” said a caller during the meeting. “Our children and families are lonely and sad and hurting, and I think Douglas County needs their own public health commission.” The motion carried on a 3-0 vote and with that, Douglas County commissioners took the extraordinary second step of breaking away from Tri-County Health after more than half a century by creating the county’s own public health department.

The commissioners acknowledge it will take a lot of work, but promised Douglas County residents a seamless transition. “We’re getting data that will be useful for us to shape the services that we define,” Teal said. “In Douglas County, we pride ourselves on doing things better. We’re going to do better than what we currently have.” “There will be continuity of services,” said board chair Abe Laydon.

The new board will be comprised of five members, including two members of the current Tri-County board and two members of the current commissioner’s court, as well as the former director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We are concerned those kinds of scientific basis for decision making might not continue under the new plan,” Guthrie said.

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