ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — In 2023, Arapahoe County will open the doors to its own single-county public health department serving residents and businesses in the state’s third-largest county.

Arapahoe County Public Health employees will gather on Tuesday, Jan. 3 for a morning all-staff meeting and orientation. In the afternoon, employees will gather at their new workspaces to get set up for the year. 

The move comes after a yearlong effort to create a new public health department following Douglas County and Adams County’s announcement to leave the Tri-County Health Department, which shuttered its doors at the end of 2022.

Tri-County Health Department dissolves

Tri-County Health Department dissolved completely on Dec. 31, 2022, and no longer offered services past that point. The last day of regular business hours was Dec. 30, 2022. 

TCHD opened on Jan. 1, 1948—just a few years after the end of World War II—and closed on Dec. 31, 2022, just one day shy of its 75th birthday.

“What an extraordinary span of time that three-quarters of a century has been for our nation, the world, and the discipline of public health,” said Dr. John Douglas, executive director of Tri-County Health Department.

On Jan. 1, 2023, Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties will provide public health services through their own individually operated health departments.

Adams County launched its first day operating its own health department with the onboarding of more than 100 new employees on Tuesday.

Background of fallout

TCHD was a joint operation among Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties to provide public health services to its residents. It all unraveled during the pandemic causing high tensions and disagreements over pandemic policies.

The counties made the decision that they would rather have their own standalone public health departments instead of a regional district health department.

Meanwhile, Douglas County residents, educators, and parents protested over school mask mandates.

In September 2020, Douglas County commissioners voted to secede from the Tri-County Health Department and form their own department. That finally came to fruition officially in September 2021.

Adams County followed with a vote to secede from Tri-County in October 2021. However, per its legal obligation, Adams County remained a part of TCHD through December 2022. Adams County formally opened its own department on Tuesday.