The formal bonds that hold the public-health partnership among Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties together may be loosening, but the complete demise of the Tri-County Health Department, which has been around for decades, may be less certain to happen than it appears.
“My best-case scenario is, after a couple months, Adams County works with us and figures out they can provide what they want in terms of local control and (for their residents) in a two-county infrastructure,” John Douglas, executive director of Tri-County Health Department, told Colorado Community Media in an interview, expressing hope that Adams and Arapahoe could still work together.
He also envisioned a future where Arapahoe County partners with Tri-County “as some kind of independent entity” that Arapahoe might contract with — or even that Greenwood Village-based Tri-County gets “evolved” into a department of Arapahoe County.
He said he hopes that whatever Tri-County becomes could also work with Adams and Douglas counties at least in a transitional role to provide services and help them plan for what their evolution to new health agencies might look like.
When the dust settles, he suggested, the outcome of the three counties’ transition may be that each county gains its own board of health — the policy-making body that issues public health orders such as mask mandates, for example — thus freeing each from the need to contend with the political differences among the counties when shaping health policy.