Public Health Q&As

Why is Arapahoe County leaving the Tri-County Health Department?

The Public Health Act of 2008 established a uniform public health system in Colorado and requires that each Colorado county establish a public health agency. Colorado statute specifies when an entity can withdraw from a public health agency and the subsequent creation or inclusion of another health agency. Following the decisions in 2021 by both Douglas and Adams counties to leave the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD), Arapahoe County must now establish its own health department, as TCHD will no longer exist in its current district public health agency form.

How much will a health department cost and how will it be funded?

Tri-County Health Department currently receives an equal per-capita funding amount from each County partner; Arapahoe County’s share is currently about $5.2 million. The County budget for 2022 intentionally set aside $1.5 million in operating budget anticipating the creation of a health department and an increase in costs.

Public health efforts are supported by federal and state funds. Many services will be funded entirely or in part from CDPHE and other funding sources. The County is in the process of matching funding sources with programs and costs and recognize that there are one-time costs that will need to be covered. We are continuing discussions with funding partners. Our intent remains to minimize the impact to the County budget while providing important public health services for residents and businesses.

What is Tri-County Health Department’s role?

Arapahoe County residents will continue to receive all public health services from TCHD through the end of 2022. Commissioners and the Foundational Board of Health will work with the agency as we navigate the process over the coming months. TCHD and its employees provide valuable resources, experience and expertise, and the County hopes to work closely with them as we find a way to move forward that is in the best interest of our residents, businesses and employees.

How will public health services be provided beginning in 2022?

At a March 29 study session, Commissioners approved an initial recommendation for services to be provided by Arapahoe County Public Health. Services will include those that are mandated by law and those that are critical based on community need. They fall into two broad categories: consumer protection and community health:

Consumer protection

  • Environmental health, which includes inspections for restaurants, childcare facilities, body art facilities, and water/wastewater
  • Communicable disease surveillance and control
  • Emergency preparedness and response
  • Community health and prevention, which includes tobacco education/prevention, behavioral health, and primary prevention programs
  • Vital records

Community health

  • Public health nursing
  • Harm reduction, which includes HIV and Hepatitis C testing, and syringe access services
  • Immunizations
  • Child fatality case review
  • Maternal child health
  • Nutrition program for women, infants, children (WICI)
  • Family planning

Consideration of additional services is ongoing. The County in engaging with members of the public and partner organizations to ensure that the needs of the community continue to be met, and to fine-tune services offered.

What happens after Dec. 31, 2022?

The relationships between Adams and Douglas counties and TCHD will formally end on Dec. 31, 2022. Arapahoe County must have a health department in place by Jan. 1, 2023.

Will there be a new Board of Health?

Yes. Commissioners have approved the establishment of a Foundational Board of Health and named members on June 14. The Foundational Board of Health has five members, including two commissioners. It will complete operational items associated with establishing the health department prior to Jan. 1, 2023. Once the health department is operational, the County intends to transition to a Board of Health with a wider variety of expertise. 

Will there be COVID-related public health orders from Arapahoe County?

TCHD is still Arapahoe County’s public health agency and will continue to provide health department services through Dec. 31, 2022. Please continue to refer to Tri-County Health Department for information, including public health orders, related to COVID.