Item Coversheet
April 11, 2023

Health Department Overview (SR 23-003; D. Worsham)


On January 1, 2023 the Snohomish Health District transitioned to the Snohomish County Health Department. This transition has shifted lines of governance including the role of the Board of Health. A new Board of Health was established that is comprised of both elected and non-elected members. In general, roles are divided in amongst four bodies: Snohomish County, Snohomish County Health Department, Board of Health, and the Health Officer. Though roles may have shifted the primary functions and duties of local public health have not.


Washington has defined a series of capabilities and services that local public health should have and provide to all residents. Collectively these services and capabilities are known as Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS). FPHS includes communicable disease control, injury prevention, environmental public health, maternal child health, linkages to clinical care, and cross-cutting capabilities.


Cross-Cutting Capabilities: Cross-cutting capabilities provides the services and structure to support environmental and preventive health efforts. This includes:

·       Human resources

·       Finance

·       Public records and HIPPA

·       Communications

·       Policy

·       Grants

·       Maintenance and facilities

·       Information technology

·       Fleet


Prevention Services: The Prevention Services division focuses on preventive programs for families and communities. We also focus on the prevention and control of communicable disease through education, monitoring, outbreak response, preparedness activities, and vaccination. Public health and disease data are part of this work, as well.


Under state law, health care providers, hospitals, and laboratories are required to report certain diseases to local public health agencies. Prevention services staff receive disease reports, conduct investigations into the cause and possible spread of illness, and initiate disease control measures.


Current Prevention Services work includes:

·       Immunization outreach and services

·       STD/HIV prevention and response

·       Data and reporting

·       Viral hepatitis outreach

·       Public health emergency preparedness and response

·       Tuberculosis control

·       Refugee health screening

·       Communicable disease surveillance and response

·       Maternal and child health

·       Healthy communities

·       Vaccine preventable diseases

·       Child care health

·       COVID-19 resources and response


Environmental Public Health: The Environmental Health division helps ensure the food, water and environment of Snohomish County are safe from health threats such as disease, pollution, pests, and other hazards. Environmental Health issues permits, responds to complaints, and ensures that health regulations such as local sanitary codes are followed.


Environmental Health charges fees for most of its services and is largely self-supporting. Septic system owners and restaurants pay for their permits, as do food handlers. Some programs also receive funding through interlocal agreements, grants and contracts with the state departments of Ecology and Health.


Current Environmental Health work includes:

·       Food safety

·       Drinking water and wells

·       Safe environments (schools, water recreation facilities, shellfish harvesting, camps, etc.)

·       On-site sewage (septic)

·       Solid, business and hazardous waste

·       Vital records (birth and death certificates)

Board Authority

RCW 70.05.060 – Powers and duties of local board of health and Snohomish County Code Chapter 2.300

Recommended Motion
Briefing Only 
A. Presentation: Public Health Overview