Board of Health and Health Department Responsibilites

What is the Board of Health and what is the Health Department?

The Board of Health and Health Department, two distinct but inter-connected entities, are charged with protecting and safeguarding the public and environmental health of the Town of Bedford. The Board of Health is a statutory board comprised of five community members elected to three (3) year terms. The Health Department is a professionally staffed office within the Town of Bedford’s Health and Human Services Department consisting of the Director of Health and Human Services, Assistant Health Director, Community Health Nurse and Administrative Assistant.

The Board of Health holds, at least, monthly public meetings and conducts public hearings as necessary; often times the Board functions in a quasi-judicial manner to adjudicate hearings for health code violations. Generally speaking, the Board adopts Regulations that provide protections beyond the minimum standards outlined in the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) and State Sanitary Code (codified in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, C.M.R.) and sets town-wide policy related to important health issues, while the Health Department handles day-to-day procedural operations, administrative duties, and executes and enforces the various health laws and regulations. The Health Department may also be delegated as the enforcing authority for Town bylaws passed by Town Meeting, the municipal equivalent of the legislature. The Health Department, in broad terms, also works to prevent and control communicable diseases and promote a healthy community, among other things.

What services does the Board of Health provide in the community?

The Board, through the Health Department, provides inspectional services aimed at protecting the public and environmental health. Such inspectional service resources are directed at retail food safety, safe and sanitary housing, recreational camps for children, bathing beaches, public and semi-public swimming pools, tanning facilities, bodyart, hazardous waste storage and disposal, etc. The Board, also through its Health Department, provides various vaccinations to the community, the most popular of which are flu and pneumonia vaccines.

How are the Board of Health and the Health Department funded?

The Board of Health and Health Department are funded primarily by the Town of Bedford’s operating budget, which is comprised mainly of funds obtained from local property taxes, but is augmented by local aid from the State of Massachusetts. The Health Department also periodically receives state and federal grant funding, for specific projects or topics of interest. In addition to the funding sources described above, the Health Department generates revenue by charging permit fees which offset the cost of delivering the aforementioned inspectional services.