Arapahoe County hosting town hall this week on forthcoming health department

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AURORA | Arapahoe County residents can learn more this week about health clinics and other services coming in January, as the Tri-County Health Department dissolves and three separate county-led entities take its place.

The virtual town hall will take place Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. Residents can listen in and ask questions by calling 855-436-3656 or stream online at the county’s website. 

Arapahoe County and Adams County are both set to officially launch their respective health departments Jan. 1 and the Tri-County Health Department will cease to exist. 

Tri-County, which served Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, has operated for more than seven decades, but politics amid the COVID-19 pandemic pulled the agency apart. Douglas County commissioners first voted to leave the department after a conservative state lawmaker and other top Republicans urged Douglas County commissioners to “terminate whatever contract exists” between the county and Tri-County after a so-called shelter in place order was put in effect. 

Adams County later followed and pulled out of the agency. 

“We need to start focusing on Adams County and we need to provide funding for the things that our citizens need in Adams County,” Commissioner Eva Henry said during the vote. “It shouldn’t be influenced by another county.”

Arapahoe County Commissioners made their decision final in December 2021. 

As a result, the City of Aurora will be ruled by three different health entities instead of the one, leaving a bevy of questions for local leaders and residents. 

Among them, how to fund programs “that might not be as sustainable” among three different agencies, Tri-County Executive Director Dr. John Douglas told The Sentinel earlier this year. 

Only 23% of Tri-County’s revenue comes from the trio of counties, the rest is from the state, the federal government and nonprofit grants.

Over the summer, Arapahoe County Commissioners formed a board of health, the first step in setting up the new department. 

Health departments are legally required by the state to provide services around communicable disease control, vital records such as birth and death certificates, child fatality case reviews and immunizations required for school-aged children, Arapahoe County Commissioner Carrie Warren-Gully said at a town hall earlier this year.

“Public health is focused on prevention,” she said.

As part of its preventative focus, the new department will prioritize restaurant and other health inspections, STI and Hepatitis testing and health focused on mothers and children, she said.

— CARINA JULIG contributed to this report 

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