1873, Michigan became the fifth state in the nation to create
a State Board of Health. The new State Board of Health was
assigned the duties of studying vital statistics, conducting
sanitary investigations into the cause of diseases, advising
the government on health matters related to public or institutional
buildings, and recommending hygiene standards for schools
throughout the state.
1878, the State Board of Health was focused on quarantine
for smallpox, scarlet fever, and measles and had just begun
to investigate water supplies, typhoid fever, and dysentery.
In an effort to educate residents, the Board began holding
sanitary conventions throughout the state to convince people
of the importance of clean water and the fight against germs.
in 1878, the State Board of Health began organizing city,
village, and township boards of health with active health
officers in an effort to make a larger impact on sanitary
conditions in the state. The City of Muskegon was the first
municipality in Muskegon County to pass a local ordinance
on December 15, 1879 to establish a City Board of Health.
order to set up larger local units for health supervision,
the State passed a law authorizing the formation of health
districts composed of townships and villages in 1917. A decade
later, county boards of supervisors were given the authority
to establish county health departments in 1927. Muskegon County
would wait another 10 years before the establishment of a
county health department in 1937.
October of 1937, a part time Health Officer, Dr. Charles Eckerman,
and two nurses were appointed to serve as Muskegon County's
first Health Department. The Health Department floundered
for the next six months as the County and the area Medical
Society disagreed about its role. In 1938 all parties concurred
the Health Department's primary objectives should be education
and administration rather than treatment.
new full time Health Officer, Dr. Rube J. Harrington, was
appointed in 1938. Harrington had previously served on the
City of Muskegon Board and was the City Physician for fourteen
years. In his new role as Health Officer, he set out to stimulate
every physician in Muskegon County to practice preventive
learn more, read our Brief History of Public Health in Muskegon County.