Nine Douglas County residents will have the opportunity to help shape the way public health services look in the community after commissioners formed a Public Health Advisory Committee during a July 12 work session.
While the county is contracted to remain with Tri-County Health Department until at least 2023, commissioners are exploring the creation of their own health department for the following years.
“The Public Health Advisory Committee provides invaluable citizen and business input and perspective to the Board of Douglas County Commissioners,” according to the county website.
Douglas County has been a part of Tri-County, which also serves Adams and Arapahoe counties, since 1966.
The advisory board will not make decisions or policies but will instead provide input to commissioners, according to a county news release.
The county began considering a new approach to public health a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic following several public health orders from Tri-County. Commissioners have cited a desire for increased local control as their reasoning for looking into making their own health department.
Commissioners also recently approved a $144,720 contract with Health Management Associates to complete a Community Health Assessment and a Public Health Improvement Plan, necessary steps in forming a new health department.
By the end of the year, the county is scheduled to have completed both of those steps along with having a recommendation for implementation, promotion and monitoring of the improvement plan.
The advisory committee will meet at least once a month from August until January with a possibility of additional meetings and an extension of the committee. They will meet with the county’s Public Health Working Group to receive updates on their work. The Public Health Working Group, made up of county staff, was formed in February to research the possibility of leaving Tri-County.
Another responsibility listed for the new committee is “operate from a forward-thinking perspective with a view toward the provision of excellent public health services for Douglas County,” according to the county’s application.
The county is looking for committee members who have experience in areas such as public health, environmental health, emergency management, nursing, medicine, health promotion and education, mental health, social work, education, community advocacy and engagement, media relations, business and local government.