The Board of Douglas County Commissioners today, by resolution, officially finalized the second of three steps fulfilling the organizational process for governance of its own single-county public health agency: the creation of a Board of Health (BOH) for the Douglas County Public Health Department (DCHD) – a department established by resolution on Sept. 7, 2021.
The third and final step, the first meeting of the new public health department’s board of health, is anticipated before Oct. 1, 2o21.
By creating its own, single-county public health agency that provides or contracts for public health services, Douglas County will create a new, localized public health governance model, while maintaining continuity of core public health services for Douglas County.
The statutorily required, vital delivery of public health services to Douglas County consistent with the specific needs of our communities will be achieved through three parallel efforts on which Douglas County has been focused for the past six months:
Governance – Every Colorado County is required to deliver standardized public health services. Today, 49 of the 64 counties in Colorado have already chosen a single county board of health model. We join those counties in doing so because the unique needs of our citizens and our size at 357,000 demand it.
Continuity of Core Services – Public health services in Douglas County are budgeted and planned for the remainder of 2021 with the existing Tri-County Health Department (TCHD). Our plan is to continue service delivery through an intergovernmental agreement with TCHD – the timeline currently under negotiation.
Understanding the unique public health needs of Douglas County – Douglas County is undertaking what is required to identify – through a public process – the unique public health needs of our communities through the implementation of a Community Health Assessment and a Public Health Improvement Plan, both requirements of state law for all public health agencies. A live town hall will be hosted by Douglas County on Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. focused on “The Future of Public Health Services in Douglas County.” Community meetings will be held throughout Douglas County the week of Oct. 4.
The new Health Department budget will be determined based on the outcome of these processes, funding for which would be a combination of the County’s general fund, state and federal grants, as well as charges for specific services.
Commissioner Abe Laydon commented, “We would like to extend our gratitude to those on the front lines in public health. We know that public health workers have had an unprecedented level of pressure and demand on their time and services and we greatly appreciate them and their profession. I also acknowledge and greatly respect our colleagues and neighbors in Arapahoe and Adams Counties and seek to be good stewards of our resources in collaboration with those surrounding Counties.”
“We are so appreciative of the employees at Tri-County Health who have been supporting our community for years by providing things like septic and restaurant inspections and immunization, counseling, nutrition, and birth control services to young families. Our goal is to have those public health employees continue to be employed and helping us to provide these very important public health services in Douglas County,” said Commissioner Lora Thomas.
“I am optimistic that we have before us a phenomenal opportunity to create a Public Health Department shaped for us, defined by law that will be a proper solution for providing public health services in Douglas County,” stated Commissioner George Teal.
The Commissioners’ Sept. 14th resolution appointed the following five individuals to the County’s new Board of Health (BOH):
- County Commissioners Lora Thomas and Commissioner George Teal. At the end of their term as County Commissioner, their term on the BOH shall automatically terminate.
- The Board of County Commissioners, at their sole discretion, may appoint up to five (5) alternate Board of Health members who may only vote on DCHD matters in the absence of the Board of Health member for whom they have been designated as an alternate.
- Other BOH appointees will have staggered five-year terms, beginning with partial terms. Two former appointees to the Tri-County Board of Health from Douglas County were appointed as initial members of the BOH to fulfill terms in this new capacity: Linda Fielding, MD, term expires 1/23; Kim Muramoto, RN, term expires 1/24; and a new appointee, Doug Benevento, term expires 1/25.
Douglas County, Colorado has been exploring options and opportunities related to alternative means for the delivery of public health services for the County for more than a year, working with public health experts as consultants, an internal working group as well as community members appointed to a new Public Health Advisory Committee.