Department History & Overview
Department of Health was created by the Act of April 27, 1905, P.L.
312, and modified subsequently through the Administrative Code of 1929.
Act 87 of July 2, 1996, P.L. 518, removed the requirement that the
Secretary be a physician; the Act also established the new position of
The Department of Health has touched every citizen in all parts of
the Commonwealth. Through the use of community-based strategies, the
Department of Health has successfully reduced the number of serious
illnesses, injuries and deaths due to major health threats;
tobacco-related diseases; infectious disease; and accidental injuries.
Over the years, the Department's mission has been adapted to meet
the needs and demands of the dynamic nature of Public Health, but one
thing has not changed -- the commitment, dedication and professionalism
of Department of Health staff to provide top-quality programs and
services that benefit the health, safety and well-being of all
Department Mission and Core Functions
The Department's mission is to promote healthy lifestyles, prevent
injury and disease, and to assure the safe delivery of quality health
care for all Commonwealth citizens.
We will work collaboratively with public and private partners in
our communities to facilitate the development of an effective public
health system that promotes the optimal health of its citizens while
reducing the need for health care. As active partners in the pursuit of
good health, we will strive to:
- Monitor the health status of the population;
- Identify and eliminate preventable illness and accidents;
- Reduce the severity of illness and disability;
- Promote healthy behaviors;
- Improve health care quality, access, continuity and accountability; and
- Lead the development of sound health policy and planning.
The Department is responsible for planning and coordinating health
resources throughout the Commonwealth. It licenses and regulates a
variety of health facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes,
ambulatory surgical facilities and other in-patient and out-patient
facilities. In addition, the Department supports outreach, education,
prevention and treatment services across a variety of program areas.
Grants and subsidies to community-based groups are used to provide
essential services to the Commonwealth's citizens including programs for
women and children, nutrition, immunization, diagnosis and treatment of
certain blood and communicable diseases, cancer control and prevention,
and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.
The Department is redirecting funding and programmatic activities
toward outcomes-based performance standards. Through its contracting and
grants process, it strives to create durable community-based
partnerships that strengthen healthy families and individuals in their
local communities while enhancing the delivery of health care. Systems
planning is dependent on input from consumers, providers and industry
stakeholders. The ultimate goal of the Department is to ensure access to
health care while assuring quality of care.