We, the Madison County Department of Health promote and protect the health of our community through assessment, education, and by ensuring necessary services. Working within a network of partners, we strive to meet the health needs of Madison County with integrity, professionalism, and respect.
In Madison County’s celebratory Bicentennial year of 2006, it is interesting to note that two decades have passed since the Madison County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to hire its first Public Health Director. The mandate of the new director was to develop a “full service Department of Health” in response to a New York State initiative that offered additional state aid for that purpose.
The first semblance of a health department in Madison County actually began in 1918 as a one person Public Health Nursing Service. The nurse was hired during the early part of the century’s tuberculosis pandemic to do follow up work with TB patients. At that point, public health practice was a holistic approach to health and healing and took into consideration its relationship to environmental factors. Education and prevention were already becoming important components of total health. The development of the department years later was built around those early concepts.
In 1938, the Madison County Board of Supervisors dissolved the Public Health Nursing Service and its Public Health Committee. The chronicles are silent as to the reason for the gap in continuous care by the county service. By 1941, the need for Public Health Nursing Services could no longer be ignored, and the Public Health Committee was restored. Six nurses were hired, funded by the New York State Department of Health. The total budget in 1941 was $15,000.
Over the years, the Nursing Service expanded to further meet the needs of the community. Several studies identified unmet needs in health care services, but it was not until 1986 when the county began to truly address those needs. The Long Term Home Health Care Program was established that year to help keep nursing home level patients in their homes in a safe environment, thus reducing the need for nursing home placement.
In December 1987, the first Public Health Director was hired and began the task of developing a new “full service” Department of Health. Housed on the second floor of the County Office Building, the Department expanded quickly and required additional space for staff. In November 1988, the Board of Supervisors resolved that the Public Health Director would propose an expansion of the Preventive Health Division and the creation of an Environmental Health Division to the fledgling department.
In 1992, the transfer of the Early Intervention Program from Madison County Family Court to the Public Health Department further enlarged the department and the offices were once again expanded, using the space once occupied by the Mental Health Department in the County Office Building. In 1995, Health Education and Community Health Assessment were added as major components of the department’s activities. Public Health preparedness activities were added in response to the terrorist activities after 9/11 in New York City and continue to be a major priority in the department.
In January 1994, the Board of Supervisors approved a measure to create a countywide Health District. This resolution offered all the townships and the City of Oneida the opportunity to join the Health District and eliminate the obligation to hire a Health Officer and maintain their own Board of Health. The City of Oneida and all towns accepted the invitation and became part of the new Health District, with the exception of Lebanon, which later joined the district in 2003. The first County Board of Health was appointed in May 1994. Charter members of the Board set-up the organizational structure, which is still in place today.
Currently the Department of Health consists of five main divisions: Administration, Preventive Health, Environmental Health, Children with Special health Care Needs, and Health Promotion. Operating with a budget of $7.6 million, the department provides services for 55 different programs and a staff of 75 with over 30 per diem contract staff. The Department has thus grown to be one of the major departments serving the residents of Madison County.