The Washington State Department of Health works with the Washington Public Health System that includes 35 local health jurisdictions which serve 39 counties, the Board of Health, and other partners. The Washington State Department of Health was formed in 1989 with the objective of promoting and protecting public health, monitoring health care costs, maintaining standards related to the minimum quality of health care delivery that must be provided to residents of the State, and planning activities related to the health of Washington State residents.
The statutory authority which governs the Washington State Department of Health is the Revised Code of Washington 43.70.020. The Department is headed by the Secretary of Health, who is appointed by the Governor. As of October 2010, the Secretary of Health is Mary C. Selecky. Secretary Selecky has held the position since March 1999.
The Washington State Department of Health provides essential programs for improving health due to the belief that preventing illness is a cornerstone of public health. It aims to improve health through disease and injury prevention, immunization, and screening for prenatal diseases. The Washington State Department of Health also works to protect individuals and families by making sure that health care professionals are licensed, ensuring emergency preparedness is as high as can be, and by investigating disease outbreaks as they happen.
The Washington State Board of Health works closely with the Washington State Department of Health. Although they share the same buildings, the two are independent entities.