Boston Public Health Commission

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Boston Public Health Commission
Boston Public Health Commission Logo.jpg
Building a Healthy Boston
Agency overview
Formed 1799 as the Boston Board of Health; 1995 as the Boston Public Health Commission
Jurisdiction Boston
Headquarters 1010 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02118
Agency executive
  • Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Executive Director
Parent agency City of Boston

The Boston Public Health Commission, the oldest health department in the United States, is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs. It is governed by a seven-member board of health appointed by the Mayor of Boston. Its mission is to "protect, preserve, and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable."[1] The commission is headquartered at 1010 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston.[2]


In 1799, The Boston Board of Health was established to combat any potential cholera outbreaks. Paul Revere was Boston's first health commissioner.[3][4]

In 1864 the Boston City Hospital opened, managed by the board.[4]

The Boston Public Health Act of 1995 caused the organization of the current commission.[1] In 1996, the modern Boston Public Health Commission opened after the Boston City Hospital (founded 1864) and Boston University Hospital (founded 1855) were merged into the Boston Medical Center.[4] This was the first full merger in the United States of a public hospital with a private academic medical center and its hospital.


The Boston Public Health Commission is formed up of six different bureaus:

  • Child, Adolescent, and Family Health
  • Community Initiatives
  • Emergency Medial Services & Public Health Preparedness
  • Homeless Services
  • Infectious Disease
  • Addictions Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Services

In total there are forty different programs, including Boston' Emergency Medical Services and Homeless Shelters. Boston Board of Health Could inspect stores, vessels, factories, and houses for health hazards. Had the power to levy fines and require the offender to remove a hazard at his own expense. Safety of workers generally considered to be their own responsibility, not that of the employer. Insurance carriers covered property, not people.

Tobacco Regulation

In 2008, the BPHC banned the sale of "blunt wraps," tobacco-leaf papers that are used to make marijuana cigarettes, in Boston. In April 2009 a Massachusetts judge upheld the ban.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Home page. Boston Public Health Commission. Retrieved on April 16, 2009.
  2. "Contact Us." Boston Public Health Commission. Retrieved on April 16, 2009.
  3. "About BPHC - The Nation's First Health Department." Boston Public Health Commission. Retrieved on April 16, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "BPHC History." Boston Public Health Commission. Retrieved on April 16, 2009.
  5. "News Notes." Bay State Banner April 2, 2009. Retrieved on April 17, 2009.

External links