Connecticut has 73 local health departments serving the state’s entire population – individuals residing in the state’s 169 cities and towns. Data compiled by the state Office of Legislative Research breaks down the health departments by full-time and part time, as well as their geographic coverage. Of the 73 local health departments across the state, 53 are full-time departments, while the remaining 20 are part-time. The full-time departments include 33 individual municipal health departments and 20 health district departments (multi-town departments serving from two to 20 towns).
By law in Connecticut, a town may have a part-time health department if: (1) it did not have a full-time department or was not part of a full-time district before January 1, 1998, (2) it has the equivalent of one full-time employee, and (3) the Department of Public Health commissioner annually approves its public health program and budget.
According to the Department of Public Health (DPH), based on the state’s 2013 estimated population, full-time health departments (both municipal and district) serve about 95 percent of the state’s population, while part-time departments serve the remaining 5% percent, OLR reports.
Connecticut’s local public health system is decentralized and a local health department falls under the jurisdiction of its respective municipality or district. Staff are hired and employed by the municipal or district health department.
The law requires towns, cities, and boroughs to nominate a municipal health director, who must be approved by their respective legislative bodies and DPH. The DPH commissioner may remove the director for cause. The town, city, or borough may also take such action with the commissioner’s approval.
Municipal and district health departments enforce the state’s public health laws, rules, and regulations, including the Public Health Code. Responsibilities include jurisdiction to:
- examine and remediate public health hazards, nuisances, and sources of filth;
- levy fines and penalties for Public Health Code violations;
- grant and rescind license permits (e.g., for food service establishments or septic systems);
- establish fees for health department services;
- submit to DPH reports on reportable diseases from health care providers and clinical laboratories; and
- provide for sanitation services (district directors may serve as sanitarians as practical).
Full-time municipal and district health departments receive state funding. The legislature eliminated funding for part-time health departments in 2009, according to OLR.