[photo, St. Mary's County Health Department, 21580 Peabody St., Leonardtown, Maryland] In 1880, the General Assembly authorized the State Board of Health to organize local boards of health or advisory committees in every city, village, and legislative district (Chapter 438, Acts of 1880). Not until 1886, however, were County responsibilities assigned. In that year, the Board of County Commissioners was designated as the St. Mary's County Board of Health and first met in July 1886 (Chapter 22, Acts of 1886). The Board chose a physician as Board secretary who was to monitor and report on sanitary conditions to the State Board of Health, and also record vital statistics.

Health Department, 21580 Peabody St., Leonardtown, Maryland, November 2017. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

In 1914, the Board of Health was placed under control of the State Department of Health, which had organized in 1910 (Chapter 560, Acts of 1910; Chapter 742, Acts of 1914). Later, under provisions of the "County Health Law" of 1922, County health duties increased, opening the way for a full-time health officer in each county (Chapter 116, Acts of 1922). In 1932, the St. Mary's County Health Department organized on a full-time basis with a full-time health officer. Originally located in one room of the County Courthouse, the Department moved in 1934 to the second floor of the Beacon Building (torn down in 1961). The Department's new building, adjacent to the County Courthouse, was dedicated in 1953.

Today, the Health Department, under direction of the Health Officer, provides public health services and administers and enforces State and local health laws and regulations within St. Mary's County. Programs meet the public health needs of the community and provide services not offered by the private sector (Code Health-General Article, secs. 3-101 through 3-202).

Appointed by the Secretary of Health, the Health Officer is the executive officer and secretary of the County Board of Health (Code Health-General Article, secs. 3-301 through 3-310).

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