The Public Health Districts were created by the 1970 Idaho Legislature to provide pubic health services to all the counties in Idaho. Prior to creation of the districts, only one-half of the counties in Idaho were providing a full spectrum of public health services. The intent of the Legislature was for health services to be locally controlled and governed. Individual health problems could be addressed by each District Board of Health, and solved without involving the whole state. Program priorities and levels of support were for the local Board of Health to determine, not the state.
Funding levels also became a local option. The legislation allowed each District Board, and the counties within the District, to determine the level of funding support they wished to provide for health services in their District. The Legislature also agreed to provide a match of each District's county support, thus creating a funding partnership.
When the Districting Law was passed, the relationship between the Districts and the State Department of Health and Welfare was much like a child-parent relationship. Health and Welfare deposited and handled our money and expenditures, approved and provided all personnel work, and presented our budget to the Legislature each year.
By resolution, the Idaho Board of Health delegated certain of its authorities and responsibilities to the seven District Boards of Health, which became officially operative on July 1, 1971. The District was expanded to include Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Butte, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida and Power Counties. In order to avoid costly duplication of efforts in the field of public health, and to promote full cooperation between the state and the district health departments, the State Board of Health delegated to each of the seven district boards of health the authority and responsibility to enforce state public health laws and State Board of Health rules and regulations governing: eating places and food establishments; meat and meat products; milk; solid waste; septic tanks; swimming pools; and vital statistics. The Districts were also charged with implementation of a legislative mandate to conduct a site-by-site inventory of the sewage disposal systems on state cabin site leases. The State Health Department agreed to provide technical advice and consultation in these areas to ensure that program implementation and enforcement of laws and regulations remained as consistent and uniform as practical throughout the state. On July 29, 1971, the State Board of Health amended this delegation of authority by the addition of 3 program areas including communicable disease.
At that time, the 24 staff members who were to serve the new 8-county District included 12 nurses, 2 supervising nurses, 6 sanitarians, 1 Sanitation Program Director, 2 clerical staff, and an acting Director. The 1972 calendar year budget totaled $514,756.
The District currently employs 95 staff members, who provide approximately 226,000 services per year in 35 program areas. There is an office in each of our 8 counties, which cover a combined area of 11,442 square miles, and have a population of approximately 158,050 people.