DELAWARE, Oh. – The Board of Health on Tuesday recognized their first-ever meeting on Jan. 31, 1920 signifying 100 years of service and dedication to the health of Delaware County residents. Although there have been many advances in technology and invention, the intent and purpose of the Health District still remain the same 100 years later — promote, protect and improve the health of the community.
When the first Board of Health met, Woodrow Wilson was president, World War I had just ended and the need for public health in Ohio was heightened after the spread of the 1918 pandemic flu. The Hughes Act and Griswold Act, both enacted in 1919, established the modern-day organization of local health departments, including the Delaware General Health District.
The Health District is reflecting on public health efforts from the past 100 years to honor “How the past made public health matter” and the significant impact on health and quality of life. Such efforts include keeping the public safe from the spread of contagious diseases, knowing a restaurant has been inspected for sanitary food handling procedures, safely drinking water free of sewage or pollution along with the diligent enforcement of public health laws to make and keep the community safe and livable.
Because of public health services, people are living longer, immunizations are available to prevent 18 deadly diseases, food safety and sanitation have improved and motor vehicle fatalities have been reduced by 90 percent. Over the past several years, Health District staff have also shown their commitment to quality by becoming one of the first health departments in the state to become nationally accredited and maintain accreditation status.
“We’re encouraged by the next 100 years, which promises the ever-growing presence and importance of public health in our everyday lives,” said Health Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson. “From the continued emphasis on immunizations, maternal and child health, food safety and vector surveillance, there are new horizons including substance abuse, health equity, food deserts and cross-sector partnerships.”
Hiddleson added that as the Health District’s celebrates this centennial, the promise and vision of “healthy habits, healthy people, healthy community” will continue to drive the Health District’s dedication to the community’s health and wellness.