The Board of Health directs policy and oversees enforcement by the health department of over 60 separate areas of public health law and regulations. These areas include food and milk, water quality, sewage and solid waste disposal, burials and approval of cemeteries, communicable disease control and quarantines, safe housing, air pollution control, the keeping of livestock and much more.
Massachusetts Boards of Health have a long, impressive history in our Commonwealth, dating back to colonial times and Paul Revere who served as Chairman of the very first formally established Board of Health in Boston in 1799. He and his fellow Board members were given board authority to govern over "filth and offal" that caused sickness, epidemics and polluted the environment.
The Ware Board of Health consists of three members. Members are elected directly by the voters of Ware. Terms are for three years and they are overlapping. The Board meets monthly. Members annually elect a chair, whose main responsibility is to preside over board meetings. The chair also performs any other duties to carry out the will of the Board when directed by vote or consensus of the Board as a whole. The Board functions as a group, making all decisions at legally convened Board meetings by majority vote. The Board of Health annually appoints public health personnel (or "agents") to act on their behalf in day-to-day activities. Many Massachusetts General Laws empower the Board of Health to take a wide range of actions to protect and promote public health in the community.
Duties of the Board of Health are as follows:
1) Adopt, promulgate, amend, and repeal local public health regulations;
2) Hear appeals, variances or waivers to state or local public health regulations;
3) Set fees for public health permits and services;
4) Act as the licensing authority for all public health permits and licenses in Town;
5) Approves the budget and provides fiduciary care and oversight of funding and expenditures;
6) Public Health advocacy; and
7) Provides the necessary leadership to the Health Department, which includes:
a. Determining the number, type, duties, compensation and qualification of staff to be hired and performing regular performance evaluations or reviews. Discipline or termination of their employees when warranted;
b. Setting short and long term goals for the Department and determining general policy to achieve those goals and objectives;
c. Regular evaluation of programs and resources provided;
d. Support the public health director and other staff in all decisions and actions that are consistent with the polices of the Board and the standards of public health practice in the Commonwealth; and
e. Delegate and hold the Public Health Director accountable for the daily operations of the Department.
Duties of the Director of Public Health include:
1) Managing the day-to-day activities and making the daily decisions necessary to perform effectively the work of the Board and the Department;
2) Implements all work authorized by the Board of Health and supervises and directs the work of the other staff by clarifying duties, providing direction, support, correction as necessary, and referral to the Board for discipline as warranted;
3) Develops a draft budget to present to the Board for final approval and is responsible for daily financial stewardship;
4) Makes sound recommendations and provides professional advise to the Board on all matters before it;
5) Keeps the Board informed - fully and accurately - on public health activities, progress, and problems at local, regional, and state levels.
Much effort has been put into the Ware Board of Health over many years to ensure a highly functioning and effective Board and department. Public input on key matters is sought and given due consideration. Members and staff are kept updated and educated on emerging issues. Procedures, policies and forms have been developed for all program areas. Accurate records are maintained. Clear channels of authority and lines of responsibility are firmly in place with the appropriate checks and balances. There are established protocols for the selection of qualified and credentialed key personnel, as well as annual performance evaluations.
The Ware Board of Health is a member of the Quabbin Health District. In 1980, Town Meeting voted to create the District under MGL C 11, sec 27A and join as a founding member town. Ware, Belchertown, and Pelham share personnel and operating costs.
The Quabbin Health District is regarded state-wide as a prime example of effectiveness of health department regionalization at reducing costs while providing professional level of services and qualified personnel.