Find Massachusetts health departments, DOH, and health and human services. Health departments provide information on health insurance, affordable health care, public health, human services, women, children and family health services and issues.
A Health Department is a government agency responsible for monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to public health risks, and setting and enforcing public health standards. Health Departments are particularly active in preventing the spread of disease, ensuring a clean water supply, and promoting a healthy environment and healthy behaviors among the public.
At the state level, Health Departments set standards and reporting requirements, establish the health code, monitor reportable diseases, develop state-wide plans for responding to public health emergencies, and coordinate with county and local Health Departments. At the county and local level, Health Departments are responsible for enforcing health codes and regulations, tracking reportable diseases, reporting disease information to the state, carrying out inspections, and issuing licenses for regulated activities.
Health Departments play a role in food safety by inspecting food service establishments and issuing licenses that allow them to operate. Food service businesses are subject to strict health regulation. Inspections are conducted on a periodic basis depending on the type of establishment. Inspections may also be triggered by complaints.
Health Departments inspect and test wells and septic systems for contaminants such as bacteria, nonorganic chemicals, naturally occurring radioactivity, and naturally occurring compounds. Wells and septic systems must receive a permit from the Health Department before going into operation.
Health Departments track numerous infectious diseases in order to prevent and contain breakouts. State, county, and local Health Departments establish systems with health care providers, schools, and other institutions to rapidly identify and communicate instances of reportable infectious diseases.
Health Departments also educate the public regarding a wide range of health concerns, including food borne illnesses, mosquito borne illnesses, immunization, and healthy behaviors. Many Health Departments offer clinical services, such as flu shot clinics, blood pressure screenings, and health consultations.
Health Departments also investigate complaints about unhealthy living conditions, from the presence of bedbugs to inappropriate care in nursing homes and hospitals. In many instances, the Health Department may be able to provide support, such as remediating lead in a home that has experienced lead poisoning.