Arapahoe County Foundational Board of Health to select director for new health department

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AURORA | After nominating a sole finalist earlier this month, Arapahoe County’s new Foundational Board of Health will make a final decision about who will lead the county’s health department at its second meeting Wednesday afternoon.

After being established as part of Arapahoe County’s ongoing plans to stand up its own county health department, the Foundational Board of Health voted at its first meeting on June 15 to nominate Tri-County Deputy Director Jennifer Ludwig to serve as public health director. A final decision will be made at its June 29 meeting beginning at 3 p.m. Ludwig has served as deputy director since 2017, according to online records.

The board of county commissioners officially voted to form its own health department after Douglas County and then Adams County both voted to leave Tri-County, the decades-long partnership between the three counties. By law, Arapahoe County must be ready to stand up its own department by Jan. 1, 2023.

The county voted in April to establish a founding board of health with five members, including two commissioners. The board members are:

County Commissioner Nancy Jackson (term expires Dec. 31, 2023)

County Commissioner Nancy Sharpe (term expires Dec. 31, 2023)

Bebe Kleinman (term expires Dec. 31, 2025)

Dr. Health Signorelli (term expires Dec. 31, 2025)

Shawn Davis (term expires Dec. 31, 2025)

Signorelli is a pathologist who is the Vice President and Chief Laboratory Officer for hospital system HCA Healthcare, and ran the COVID-19 testing program for the company’s over 190 locations. Kleinman is the CEO of Doctors Care, a Littleton-based organization that provides medical care to the underserved. Davis is a commissioner on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Health Equity Commission.

The board members were selected from applications submitted to the county commissioners.

“We received numerous applications for the Foundational Board of Health from deeply qualified individuals, and the three we’ve selected have a wide range of experience in public and environmental health, nonprofits and startup businesses, and they all have long track records of pursuing and attaining equitable services and outcomes in health care,” Jackson, who serves as Arapahoe County’s liaison to TCHD, said in a statement.

The five-member foundational board, which was officially announced on June 15, will be responsible for hiring employees for the new health department, most importantly the new director. It will also be charged with recommending a 2023 budget to the county commissioners and securing other employees, property, contracts and leases, according to a news release from the county.

County residents will still receive public health services from Tri-County through the end of the year, and the board will not make any public health orders. Douglas and Adams counties will also stand up their own health departments at the beginning of next year, though since last fall Douglas County has been responsible for managing its own response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arapahoe County will update the public on its plans during its next telephone town hall, which is scheduled for Thursday, July 7 at 6:30 p.m.

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