The Florida Department of Health (DOH) was established by the Florida Legislature in 1996; however, public health has its roots in Florida dating back to 1888 with the creation of the Florida State Board of Health. In 2007, the first-ever “State Surgeon General” was established to spearhead the efforts of DOH, thereby designating a health officer to oversee all matters of public health. The Surgeon General’s role is to be the state’s leading advocate for wellness and disease prevention.
The Department is an executive branch agency, established in section 20.43, F.S. The Department is led by a State Surgeon General, who serves as the State Health Officer and is directly appointed by Florida’s Governor, and confirmed by Florida’s Senate. The Department has three deputy secretaries that oversee all of its business and programmatic operations.
The Department is comprised of a state health office (central office) in Tallahassee, with statewide responsibilities; Florida’s 67 county health departments; 22 Children’s Medical Services area offices; 12 Medical Quality Assurance regional offices; nine Disability Determinations regional offices; and four public health laboratories. Facilities for the 67 county health departments (CHDs) are provided through partnerships with local county governments. These 67 CHDs have a total of 255 sites throughout the state, providing a variety of services, and ranging from small to large in location size.