Local News

Health department to celebrate 125 years

SEBRING - The Florida Department of Health in Highlands County will celebrate 125 years of public health in Florida by having an open house featuring a historical presentation and educational materials 2-4 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Sebring location, 7205 S. George Blvd.

The state legislature created the State Board of Health on February 20, 1889 in response to a yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville, and Dr. Joseph Yates Porter from Key West became Florida's first state public health officer. Yellow fever in Florida was eradicated in 1905.

"Florida's dramatic growth was made possible through public health efforts that controlled disease and improved environmental health," said Dr. John Armstrong, state surgeon general and secretary of health. "Just as Dr. Porter and colleagues saved Floridians from yellow fever over a century ago, we are committed to solving the top public health threat to Florida families now: weight challenge."

The year-long celebration was launched in Key West on Feb. 3, where Armstrong joined Porter's great-great granddaughter in a ceremonial wreath-laying at his grave site.

Throughout the year, the department will offer educational and health information opportunities. A resource featuring "Public Health Heroes" from all 67 counties will be released later this spring.

During the week of April 7-11, the department will further highlight the 125th anniversary as part of National Public Health Week.

In September, the department will unveil a full historical exhibit of Florida Public Health heritage at Florida's Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee.

For information, go online to www.FLHealth125.gov.