TEWKSBURY — Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Mary Lou Sudders and Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Dr. Monica Bharel visited The Public Health Museum in Tewksbury recently as part of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s 150th anniversary celebration. The Public Health Museum serves as a resource and living archive of public health in America, and is the only museum dedicated to public health in the United States.
The museum opened on the campus of the Tewksbury Hospital in 1994. CEO of Tewksbury Hospital Debra Tosti, along with the museum’s president, Dr. Katherine Domoto and other distinguished health professionals, were in attendance.
The visit was part of a year-long recognition by the DPH of the department’s 150 years in existence. A variety of events will occur throughout the year, highlighting the many landmark achievements in public health which have been credited to the Bay State.
According to the Mass.gov website, “America’s first board of health was established in Boston by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1799, with Paul Revere as president. Later, in September of 1869, the Massachusetts State Board of Health, now DPH, was established by Dr. Henry I. Bowditch, its first chairman. It later merged with what was called the “Board of Health, Lunacy, and Charity.”
Massachusetts has several public health firsts, including “publishing the first manual of public health laws, requiring mandatory reporting of dangerous diseases, establishing the nation’s first Food and Drug Laboratory and state public health microbiology lab,” according to the Mass Public Health Blog.
The Public Health Museum in Tewksbury seeks to preserve the past and inspire future practitioners, health educators and enlighten the general public by advancing the future of public health through partnerships with academic institutions. The museum offers exhibits and conducts campus tours, along with lectures which are open to the public.
Ongoing events such as Public Health Week, held in conjunction with the Tewksbury Public Library, provide outreach opportunities and educate audiences about significant events in public health, such as the 1918 flu pandemic, tuberculosis and pioneers in health such as Elizabeth Blackwell and Clara Barton.
The museum also offers Outbreak!, a week-long summer program for junior and senior high school students to expose them to a wide range of public health career opportunities. Outbreak! is in its seventh year and is open to all high school students.
The museum is pleased to have been awarded a grant from the National Library of Medicine to focus on Outbreak Alumni Leadership activities.