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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.

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Our History

Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County

Historical Overview of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County 

From 1920 to 1948 the City of West Palm Beach and employed one part time physician, four nurses and a restaurant loosely operated the health department inspection staff. The next 52 years through the efforts of state and county governments the Palm Beach County Health Department has grown to a staff of 800 and an annual budget of $47 million and serves virtually every citizen in the county.

1948 - Palm Beach County approves funds to establish a county health department. With the state of Florida matching the county contribution.

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1949 - County Commission tries to rescind its vote to form a Health Department due to outside pressures and fears. Action fails by one vote.

1950 - Dr. C.L. Brumback hired as first Health Department Director and opens offices on 1/2 of floor in county building and four rooms in migrant camp-Belle Glade.

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1951 - 14 School nurses join department and create school health program.

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1956 - Kiwanis Dental Clinic funded and operated by the Health Department. Until this  Kiwanis Clubs in the area raised money and operated the dental clinic on their own. Many Celebrities like Irving Berlin, Al Jolson, Arthur Hammerstein, Sam Harris and Lee Shubert participated in the original funding of this clinic.

1956 - Raw sewage stopped from being pumped into the intracoastal. Children's bureau funds 5-year program to help migrant workers and families with medical care, nutrition, social services, education and environmental health.

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1956 - Waiver of State Law.

1956 - PBC Environmental Control Act Passed.

1960 - 1969 - Main operation center in West Palm Beach and small store front operation in Delray Beach.

1970 - 1977 - Program Expansion, Demonstration of the ability to provide preventive health and primary care services in public health setting.

1983 - Belle Glade Health Center opened.

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1987 - Formation of Health Care District.

1990 - Delray and Lantana Health Centers opened.

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1999 - Staff of 801, budget of $47,399,848.

1999 - County population of 1,044,051 PBCHD provides services to 64,608 unduplicated clients.

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2001 - First Anthrax case in US diagnosed and investigated.

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2002 - New West Palm Beach Health Center dedicated.

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2003 - Malaria outbreak in county Health Department coordinates investigation and education.

2004 - Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne strike - Special Care Unit for 500 residents staffed by Health Department. Environmental and other issues addressed in community.

2005 - Population served 1,211,000.

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2006 - Preventive Medicine/Public Health Residency, the only one of its kind educating within a Public Health Department celebrates 50 years.

2007 - City of West Palm Beach placed on boil water notice for over one month after E-Coli and fecal coliform bacteria discovered in distribution system.  Source was determined to be faulty switch in the automatic chlorine feeder (the final disinfectant process), and later identified a 36-inch pipe within the 1-million-gallon storage tank that allowed partially disinfected water to enter directly into the water distribution system. Repairs were completed and City of West Palm Beach allocated funding to upgrade its entire water system under the direction of Department of Health.

2009 - Alina Alonso, M.D. Appointed Director by State Surgeon General upon approval by the Board of County Commissioners.  Dr. Alonso had been with the Department for over 20 years and trained under Dr. Carl Brumback the first director or the Health Department.

New Health Department Administration and other services building opens.

800 Clematis Street

Florida Department of Health launches an investigation of a possible Cancer Cluster in the Acreage.

H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic Department launches county wide vaccine program, enhanced surveillance and community education on prevention.  Outbreak carries into 2010.  14 deaths and 94 people require hospitalization as a result of the virus, many more identified and treated symptomatically. 

2010 - Marjorie S. Fisher Tooth Fairy, a two dental suite mobile coach, begins serving elementary students in Palm Beach County. 

Tooth Fairy Bus

2011 - Autumn-Two cases locally acquired Dengue Fever identified. Department issues Health Alert. Mosquito control inspects and eliminates mosquitoes around infected persons.  Epidemiology investigates and educates on preventive measures.  By year end there was no additional local transmission identified in the county.

2012 - A.G. Holley the nations last Tuberculosis hospital closes.

A.G. Holley TB Hospital

2014 - Summer - First case of locally acquired chikungunya identified. Palm Beach County put on advisory status and elevated to Alert status following second case. Epidemiology Department launches full scale investigation and elevates surveillance. Five locally acquired cases identified in Florida by years’ end. Overall with travel related 49 cases identified in Palm Beach County. 

Autumn - Public Health actively investigates and mitigates Ebola following a Public Health Emergency Declaration by the Florida Governor.

2015 - Village of Wellington votes to reinstate water fluoridation through its water utility.

125 Years of Public Health in Florida Celebrated. 

2016 - Zika Virus arrives in South Florida and throughout the United States. Department investigation is ongoing.

Preventive Medicine-Public Health Residency Program celebrates 60 years of educating physicians in Public Health.

2020 - On March 1, 2020, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) reported Florida’s first two cases of COVID-19 in Hillsborough and Manatee County residents. As a result, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-51, directing a Public Health Emergency, and establishing Florida’s Response Protocol for COVID-19.  The first 2 cases in Palm Beach County were announced on March 12, 2020. The State Surgeon General issued a Declaration of Public Health Emergency for the State of Florida on March 25, 2020 with Executive Order 20-52

From this point forward, DOH-Palm Beach began working closely with all community partners and the media to communicate consistent, up to date COVID-19 messaging vital to Palm Beach County Residents through all platforms, (phone, e-email, print, video, digital, social media).  Key partners include Palm Beach County, PBC Ch 20, The Health Care District of Palm Beach County, The Department of Emergency Management, as well all county hospital partners, primary care providers, and local city agencies.

Source DOH-Palm Beach  - Public Information Office