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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Boston Globe Health and Science staff:
Karen Weintraub, Deputy Health and Science Editor, and Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor.
Short White Coat blogger Ishani Ganguli
Short White Coat blogger Jennifer Srygley
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.
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.