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The DeKalb County Health Department forms in 1924. The staff consists of the health officer, a school nurse, a maternal health nurse and a clerk. The department is in an old house on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Decatur. The department later moves to two rooms in the Decatur Bank building. Health officers are Warren A. Harrison, M.D. (1924-1925) and Rufus J. Evans, M.D. (1925-1950). Board chairs are W. T. McCurdy, M.D. (1924-1928) and J. E. Flowers, M.D. (1928-1952).

A nurse and sanitary engineer are added to the staff. The county purchases a home on Clairemont Avenue in Decatur to house the health department. Scott Candler, DeKalb County Commissioner of Roads and Revenues, joins the board and becomes a force for change.

The county health department becomes responsible for the City of Decatur, which previously had its own health officer. Dental and venereal disease services are added. The health department moves to a newly constructed building on Herring Street in Decatur. The staff consists of a health officer, six nurses, two sanitarians and one clerk.

A new health department facility in Decatur is completed. A nurse is placed in the Scottdale Mill and Grady Memorial Hospital establishes a clinic at the health department. DeKalb County becomes the first county in Georgia with a fluoridated public water supply. The DeKalb County Health Department assumes responsibility for the Atlanta-in-DeKalb area when the Atlanta and Fulton County health departments merge. Expansion includes a mobile chest x-ray unit, school health program, cardiac nursing services, dental services and rabies control. Staff now includes a psychiatric social worker, four rabies control officers, 20 nurses and a health educator. New health centers are established in Doraville, Lithonia, Brookhaven, Lynwood Park, Scottdale, Stone Mountain and Tucker. The health department also opens a new dog pound and hires a pound master. Dr. Flowers resigns as health officer. The new health officer is Thomas O. Vinson, M.D., (1950-1975) and the board chair is Rufus J. Evans, M.D. (1952-1969).

Health centers in the southwest and south DeKalb areas open. The health department is responsible for the operating the dog pound, enforcing housing codes and milk regulations, controlling insects and rodents, offering mental health and mental retardation services, and providing public health nursing. The county opens the T. O. Vinson Health Center on Winn Way and has eight outlying centers. The department has 136 employees. Staff conduct classes on radiological monitoring and attendees are certified as proficient in detecting radiological fallout in case of a nuclear attack. Water pollution begins to become a concern. Dr. Evans resigns as board chair in 1969.

A health center opens in the East Lake Meadows neighborhood. Drug problems and the need for rehabilitation services are noted. Dr. Vinson retires in 1975. The new health director is Gunar N. Bohan, M.D., M.P.H. (1976-1988) and the board chair is Jack Hamilton (1970-1984).

The McAfee and East Lake Meadows health centers close. Following Dr. Bohan’s death in 1988, R. Derril Gay, Ph.D., deputy director, serves as acting director. Paul J. Wiesner, M.D., becomes District Health Director (1989-2004). Mr. Hamilton leaves the position of board chair. J. Frederick Agel joins the board in 1980, becomes board chair in 1984 and serves until 2005.

In 1992, DeKalb County residents pass a $29 million bond referendum to build and improve health facilities. The Eleanor L. Richardson Health Center opens on Winn Way. The DeKalb Community Service Board is created by a 1994 state law to provide the mental health, mental retardation and substance abuse services previously offered by the Board of Health. In 1997, the East DeKalb Health Center opens in Lithonia, housing both Board of Health and Community Service Board programs. The old Tucker, Stone Mountain and Lithonia health centers close. In 1998, the North DeKalb Health Center opens in Chamblee, also offering both Board of Health and Community Service Board services. The old Brookhaven and Doraville health centers are closed.

Major renovation of the T. O. Vinson Health Center and the DeKalb-Atlanta Human Services Center, housing the Kirkwood Health Center, is completed. Dr. Wiesner retires in 2004 and Stuart Brown, M.D., begins serving as acting director. In 2005, S. Elizabeth Ford, M.D., M.B.A., becomes District Health Director (2005-2021) and Fred Agel leaves the board. Subsequent board chairs are Darold Honoré (2005-2006), Vernon Jones (2006-2008), Jimmie Moomaw (2008-2009) and Robert Moseley (2009-2011).

The Board of Health consists of five health centers throughout the county, with over 400 employees. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) opens a district office and Georgia’s first drive-through WIC clinic. The year 2015 also brings major cosmetic and preventive maintenance projects at each center. Refugee Services opens a pediatric clinic in the Richardson Health Center. Vernon Jones completes his service as board chair in 2011. Hansen Chang, M.D., serves as chair in 2011, Arlene Goldson serves from 2011 to 2016 and Jeff Rader serves from 2016 to 2020.

The new decade brings an unprecedented challenge – the COVID-19 pandemic. To mitigate the spread of the virus, many office staff telework for a time. Clinical and contract staff work on the front lines, administering COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. In 2021, Dr. Ford resigns and Sandra J. Valenciano, M.D., M.P.H., becomes District Health Director. Clyde Watkins, M.D., serves as board chair from 2020 to 2022 and Sonia Alvarez-Robinson, Ph.D., begins serving in 2022.