By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- The Florida Department of Health has been promoting, protecting and improving the health of Floridians for 125 years and Martin County has been part of that mission for 65.
For a century and a quarter the organization has provided education, emergency preparedness services, community health improvement and so much more.
The state Legislature created the State Board of Health on Feb. 20, 1889, in response to yellow fever epidemics in Jacksonville and other port cities and has since dealt with everything from quarantines to water supply tests.
Locally the Florida Department of Health Martin County provides environmental health services, a vital health department, school health services, even birth and death certificates.
"Public health is a lot of things. It touches people from birth to death," said Renay Rouse, public information officer for Florida Department of Health Martin County.
In 2009 they responded to the H1N1 outbreak by providing education and vaccination clinics. Last summer they strove to contain Rio's dengue fever outbreak by sending field teams to collect samples and inform locals.
In their early years they set up clinics to screen residents for tuberculosis in 1949, offered a polio vaccine to students in 1957, investigated ground water contamination in the Golden Gate community in 1982 and a food poisoning outbreak at Martin Correctional Institute in 1990.
Now they also collect and test water samples from the river and oceans for bacteria levels and even offer septic permitting and disease surveillance when illnesses like the flu start spreading. They also assist in family planning and are a WIC and Nutrition resource.
"We have a mission and that's to protect and promote health," Ms. Rouse said. "That's carried out in a lot of the services we offer."
Those services have seen plenty of changes over the many years the department has been in operation. Most recently the Florida Department of Health Martin County passed its primary care services on to Florida Community Health Centers and the county branch is applying to become a state accredited public health department.
On Tuesday, Feb. 25 the Martin County Board of Commissioners commemorated the anniversary as they presented Martin County Health Officer Karlette Peck with an official proclamation.
"It's very exciting," said Ms. Rouse.
For more information on Florida Department of Health Martin County visit www.MartinCountyHealth.com.