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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Less is more, public health commissioner says

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

With apologies to Hillary Rodham Clinton: When it comes to public health, it takes a village.

But 351?

That's the question the state's new public health commissioner, John Auerbach, is asking. Massachusetts now has a crazy quilt of 351 public health boards -- one for every city and town. Some are so small that on certain afternoons, especially Fridays, they simple close down.

Auerbach told the state's Public Health Council today that he intends to explore the feasibility of creating regional public health networks to maximize expertise and assure responsiveness.

"There has to be a solution other than the current way of functioning," Auerbach said in an interview. "Most other states have already figured this out. We're the exception."

Florida, for example, which has three times the population of Massachusetts and considerably more land mass, has 67 county health departments.

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 01:53 PM
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