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Information on Minnesota State Agencies, Boards, Task Forces, and Commissions
Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
Also known as:
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)
The statutory mission of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is to protect, maintain, and improve the health of all Minnesotans. MDH is the state's lead public health agency, responsible for operating programs that prevent infectious and chronic diseases and promote clean water, safe food, quality health care, and healthy living. The department also plays a significant role in making sure that Minnesota is ready to effectively respond to serious emergencies, such as natural disasters, emerging disease threats, and terrorism. The department carries out its mission in close partnership with local public health departments, tribal governments, the federal government, foreign countries, and many health-related organizations.
Active dates:1977 -
During the mid-to-late nineteenth century, Minnesota faced public health issues such as poor sanitation and disease epidemics. To address these issues, Minnesota established a state board of health in 1872. It was the third such board in the United States.
The state board of health was abolished in 1977 (see Laws of Minnesota 1977, Chap. 305 Sec. 39) and all powers and duties of the board were transferred to the commissioner of health.
That same legislation created a health advisory council. In 1983 the Health Advisory Council was renamed the State Health Advisory Task Force (1983 Laws, Chap. 260 Sec. 30).
The Minnesota Department of Health hired Elisabeth Emerson to write a history of public health in Minnesota during the mid- to late-20th century: "Public Health is People: History of the Minnesota Department of Health from 1949 to 1999."
In November 2017, the Star Tribune ran a 5-part series of articles that brought to light the high number of elder abuse allegations being reported to the Department of Health in MN and a breakdown in the agency's handling of the cases. In part, due to controversy over the state's mishandling of allegations of criminal abuse in senior care facilities, Dr. Edward Ehlinger resigned December 19, 2017 as Minnesota's commissioner of health.
Commissioner term, 4 years or pleasure of governor. Commissioner history: Dr. Robert Barr, 1949-1970; Dr. Warren Lawson, 1971-1978; Dr. George Peterson, 1979-1982; Sister Mary Madonna, 1983-1990; Daniel McInerney, 1991 (Acting Commissioner); John McCally, February, 1991- March, 1991; Mary Jo O'Brien, 1991 (Acting Commissioner); Marlene Marschall, 1991-1993; Mary Jo O'Brien, 1993-1995; Anne Barry, 1995; Jan Malcolm, January 19, 1999; Dianne Mandernach, February 3, 2003 (She was reappointed on January 2, 2007); Dr. Sanne Magnan, September 27, 2007- 2010; Dr. Ed Ehlinger, January 1, 2011-December 19, 2017; Dan Pollock (Acting Commissioner), December 20, 2017 - January 30, 2018; Jan Malcolm, January 31, 2018 -
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Additional print information on this group may be available in the
Library's collection of agency notebooks. Please contact a librarian for
assistance. The Minnesota Agencies database is a work in progress.