A publication entitled, "A Century of Progress: Public Health in West Virginia" indicates that public health has functioned in the state since 1881. A statement in this same report shows that the WVPHA was organized in 1924. The aim of the Association was the propagation of health education throughout the state; through organized groups in each county. The state organization became affiliated with the American Public Health Association. A membership in WVPHA cost $1.00. The Association was made up of 3 Sections: Lay, Health Officers and Public Health Nursing. Some concerns of the Association were lay participation, rural health problems, poliomyelitis, nutrition and West Virginia’s health problems.
By Laws indicated the affairs of the Association would be managed by an Executive Council between meetings. At least 10 persons interested in a special phase of public health could apply for Section status. WVPHA adopted resolutions favoring immunization against smallpox and diphtheria before children reached school age; also, to remove quarantines and placards on measles. They favored keeping cases in isolation and educating families on how measles were communicated. They were interested in "Provisions for Health Under the Social Security Act" and heard Surgeon M. V. Ziegler, USPHS, speak on the subject. Sanitarians and Sanitary Engineers became a part of WVPHA. The Association was pleased to learn that West Virginia led the nation in a rural sanitation program.
The 40’s were the war years and several health officers, nurses and others were in the armed services. At one time 20 Sanitarians were on leave to serve their country. There were no minutes of the 1942 meetings, due to the fact that the secretary, Dorothea Campbell, died before she could transcribe them. The 1943 meeting was canceled due to transportation problems; the 1945 meeting was canceled due to a ruling of the WPB that there be no meetings involving more than 50 people; however, district meetings were held. A Lay Committee was formed in the early 40’s to assist the Association with education projects, publicity, School and County Health Councils, etc. A WVPHA committee worked on a bill regarding a retirement fund for Merit System employees, however it did not get out of committee in the Legislature. An institute for clerks was held in 1946 and a Clerical Section was formed in 1947. This was named the Clerical & Vital Statistics Section. By 1949, seven sections made up the Association. They were: Health Officers, Public Health Nursing, Sanitarians, Clerical & Vital Statistics, Industrial Hygiene, Health Education and Venereal Disease.
An official newsletter, THE VOICE was first published in December 1950. It gave a brief history of the Association; information on the health conference, membership, etc. An official seal for WVPHA was introduced. It was designed by William H. Rost and included a pen to denote education; a syringe to denote prevention; and a test tube to denote diagnoses; crossed with the medical symbol. WVPHA endorsed a "pop tax" on soft drinks, which was to provide revenue to build a 4-year medical school in West Virginia; they opposed a movement to repeal the tax in 1952. The first Certificate of Merit was awarded to Dr. N. H. Dyer, State Director of Health, in 1952. The Association began awarding certificates to state and county health employees for 25 or more years service. The theme of the 1956 conference was "Atomic Warfare and Civil Defense". Other subjects of conferences during the 50’s included "Problems of the Aging", "Public Health Objectives" and "Broadening our Horizons in Public Health". WVPHA promoted rabies control legislation and favored the formation of local and school health councils. They also promoted water fluoridation, which had begun in 36 cities and towns by 1954. The Association co-sponsored the 1956 Conference with the State Department of Health, who was celebrating 75 years of public health in West Virginia. By 1959, eight sections were a part of WVPHA; Health Administration, Laboratory, Clerical & Vital Statistics, Health Education & Medical Services, Public Health Nursing, Sanitarian, Industrial Hygiene, & Mental Health.
A Planning Committee was established and a plan for selecting recipients of awards was approved. WVPHA sent a resolution to Congress, urging enactment of H.R. Bill #4998, the Community Health Services & Facilities bill, to provide desperately needed health services to our State. The Association joined Southern Branch-APHA. The first delegate to this organization was Dr. B. S. Brake, who was also the delegate to APHA. Safety belts were on display at the 1962 conference. WVPHA encouraged their use and urged the Governor to endorse safety belts for all state vehicles. The APHA passed a resolution on smoking and urged public health workers to provide leadership in educational programs regarding the hazards of smoking. They urged legislation regulating advertisement of cigarettes, etc. WVPHA member Arthur Schultz received an award from Region III, HEW for devising a display concerning the Syphilis Eradication Program. In 1967 WVPHA was invited to participate in a proposal for a state-wide program of Postgraduate Medical Education. The Council sent a resolution to Civil Service, asking for an increase in sick leave for Civil Service employees from 60 to 90 days. They also urged that sick and annual leave be transferred from one agency to another whenever an employee transferred and asked Civil Service to contract for hospital insurance for employees. WVPHA supported an increase from 8 cents to 10 cents a mile for employees who must use their personal cars to perform their assigned duties. Some conference themes included "Meeting New Responsibilities in Public Health", "Closing the Gaps in Public Health – the 20th Century Challenge". Subjects discussed included Water and Air Pollution, The White House Conference on Children & Youth, Alcoholism, Salmonella and others. "Curbstone" Conferences were held on some subjects and some Sections used skits & one-act plays as part of their program. A Certificate of Incorporation was issued to the Association in ’69. Dental Health became a section in 1960 and the Sanitarian & Industrial Hygiene Sections merged to become the Environmental Health Section. "News and Views" became the newsletter for WVPHA in the 60’s.
Dr. N. H. Dyer, State Health Director, endorsed WVPHA and their plan for a redirection of purpose that will provide a effective leadership in West Virginia. A Legislative Committee was formed. Legislation supported during the 70’s included the national Health Service Corp HR Bill 19249 – the Alcoholism Act of 1970; Venereal Disease legislation. They urged passage of a bill allowing minors to consent to their own medical care, in connection with or for the prevention of pregnancy. They passed a resolution requesting the State Dental Association to lobby in favor of legislative support for the State Health Department's dental division’s program. They were in communication with Civil Service re: a salary survey of state workers. WVPHA sponsored a workshop on Health laws & Legislative Tools. The Clerical & Vital Statistics Section introduced their "Boss of the Year" contest in 1972. Mr. O. R. Lyons became the first recipient of this award. The Association purchased lapel pins for members for the 50th Anniversary in 1974. Senator Jennings Randolph was featured speaker at this event and received the WVPHA Citizen Award. The first "group" award for contributions to public health was awarded to the Moundsville Lions Club. An Operating Code, spelling out the duties of the officers and committees, was introduced to the members. In-Service Training for Clerks was established. Dr. N. H. Dyer left his position as State Health Director in 1977. Friends established a scholarship fund in his honor, to which WVPHA and their members contributed. Senator Edward Kennedy’s health incentive plan, "Ounce of Prevention", was endorsed by the Association. The WV Health Systems sought WVPHA’s assistance in developing a ealth SystemH Health Systems Plan for 1979. WVPHA strongly endorsed bringing Mental Health and Public Health closer together. Conference themes of the 70’s included "Working Together & Liking It", "Living in the Seventies", "Emergency Health Services in West Virginia", "West Virginia’s Year of the Child" and others. Some topics discussed included, The Contemporary Drug Scene and You, Health Education of the Future, Dental Care for the Nation’s Children, Junk Food, among others. Some Sections held Continuing Education programs and panel discussions on various subjects. A Social Services Section was added to the group in the 70’s.
WVPHA had 3 members serving in various capacities in Southern Branch-APHA, in addition to the regular delegate. The Nutrition Section was established. WVPHA went on record in support of continuing education of a general nature or specific nature, carried on as an organization. They promoted continuing education for clerical personnel; perhaps as a regional workshop twice a year. They requested the State Health Director write county health officers recommending that county health department employees receive the same salary increase as state employees. It was requested that the Governor increase line items for local health from $3.4 to $7.7 million over the next four years. Governor Rockefeller declared September 13-19, 1981 as "Public Health Week" and 1981 as "The Year of Public Health" in West Virginia. One hundred years of public health service was celebrated at the 57th conference. WVPHA began to give recognition for 10-15 years of service; some of this recognition took place during Section meetings. The Association promoted involvement of local community leaders in finding resources available to promote community health. Southern Branch withdrew from APHA and became Southern Health. They held a combined meeting with WVPHA in Charleston in 1983. The theme: "The Workplace – Where Industry and Public Health Meet". Union Carbide and several other industries in the area participated. Twelve states, including West Virginia participated. A workshop for clerks was held at Jackson’s Mill (’83). The Public Health Hall of Fame was established in 1984. Twenty-one persons were inducted the first year. It was discovered that the West Virginia Self-Applied Fluoride School Program ranked in the top 10 in the nation, realizing a 35-40% reduction in tooth decay. The Nutrition Section sponsored part of the SHEC Conference. Public Health Orientation Day for Legislators was held in January 1987 to acquaint members of the Legislature with functions of the Health Department. In September 1987 the Public Health Hall of Fame plaque was unveiled at the Cultural Center. All inductees were invited to the unveiling. Environmental Health and the Clerical Section held workshops at Cedar Lakes. These became annual events and were open to all health department employees. The Clerical & Vital Statistics Section was renamed the Professional Clerical Section. Some Conference themes of the 80’s included: "Behavior and Health", "The Law and Public Health", among others. Subjects discussed included Prescription for Nurturing Care Givers, Nutrition and Cancer, Adolescent Chemical Addiction, and a seminar on Safety and the Workplace. Also available at one conference: Cholesterol Screening and Nutritional Assessment. By 1989 the Sections included: Behavioral Health, Dental, Environmental Health, Health Education, Home Health, Local Health, Nutrition, Professional Clerical, Public Health Nursing and Public Health Retirees (new in ’88).
By-laws showed 14 standing committees, including the newly formed Historical Committee. Public Health Nursing marked their 100th Anniversary. WVPHA urged the development of an adequate & stable source of funding for the delivery of basic public health services. An Ad Hoc Committee report shows that WVPHA is to cooperate with the Bureau of Public Health & local health departments to assist in educating the state’s leadership on public health issues. 1991: – A Coalition for Public Health was formed, to include 16 state organizations and groups, including WVPHA. 1992: – A radon risk reduction grant from APHA was one of only 12 in the nation approved. The award was for education and testing in West Virginia. Day Care Centers were targeted for inclusion in these tests. Regional meetings included discussions on health services and programs determined to be essential to prevent illness and promote well being for residents of the State. Certificates of Merit for Excellence were awarded to Randolph-Elkins, Mercer, Beckley-Raleigh, Marshall and Monongalia County Health Departments. Legislative bills of interest to public health, that passed both houses, created a Cancer Registry and created a Primary Care Support Program Act. An early morning short devotional program was added to the Conference Agenda. 1993: – A Review Board was formed to establish a specific policy to ensure a high standard in the selection process for induction into the WVPHA Hall of Fame. The Association supported a legislative bill by PERSA regarding increases in benefits for retirees. Other bills of concern included Health Care Reform, Tobacco Control, Clean Indoor Air, Tobacco Excise Tax, and a bill regarding Hepatitis B prevention. WVPHA sponsored a Network Workshop at Canaan, during which discussions included the Radon Grant, Tobacco Control Coalition and the Committee on Public Health Issues. Regional meetings included discussions on the safety of U. S. food supplies, as well as domestic violence as a Public Health issue. The Historical Committee began to copy and store files in the Archives Library at the Cultural Center for safe keeping. 1994: – Local health department training in primary care was combined with a WVPHA Regional Meeting. The Health Administration Section held a mid-year meeting in conjunction with a regional meeting. The Association opposed an agriculture bill, which would have transferred some duties of DHHR’s Environmental Section to the Department of Agriculture. Local tobacco control regulations were in place in 10 counties. Public Health Awareness Week was named. 1995: – The Executive Council named Members-at-Large as being in charge of the Regional Meetings. One Regional Meeting held discussions on "Managed Care". The Association held "Public Health Day at the Legislature". They participated in the Rural Health Conference and the Council endorsed a "complement" to the White Paper developed by the Nursing Section. 1996; – National Public Health Week was declared; subject, "Celebrating Success". WVPHA began exploring the possibility of offering scholarships to retirees and possibly, some current employees to aid them in attending the Conference. Later, this was changed to Retirees to cover cost of room, mileage at 31 cents per mile and food. The registration fee, which included cost of banquet, was waived. The Automation\Finance Section was established. WVPHA supported DHHR legislation. Bills passed included a Rules Bill regarding lead abatement, infectious medical waste, public water systems, general sanitation, public water capacity, tuberculosis control, and reportable diseases. Radon testing in schools was passed, as was a revision of the rabies observation code., among others. 1997: – The 3rd annual "Public Health Awareness Day" was held. Special awards were given the local health department that made a special effort to conduct activities in observance of the day. Certificates of Merit were given the other participating health departments. The Professional Clerical Section celebrated 50 years of dedicated service. Topics of discussion at regional meetings included rural health systems, state and local response to disasters, managed health, cancer, chewing tobacco risks, among others. The President of the United States declared the first week of April as "National Public Health Week" and the State Legislature issued a resolution recognizing the contributions of public health and prevention services to the citizens of West Virginia., Out of observances of Public Health Week came CHPS – Community Health Promotion Specialists. An Educational Scholarship Fund was established in the amount of $10,000. 1998: – A cap was put on Retiree Scholarships to attend the Conference, not to exceed $400 per applicant. The President-elect, on attending a meeting in Washington, D.C., learned that WVPHA is one of the largest associations with the lowest cost and best programs in the nation. There were 408 members of the Association in 1998. Three regional meetings were held, covering the subjects of the PERSA Plan, update on Legislative Issues Regarding Public Health, WV’s Bioterrorism in the Workplace and the latest information on the Transitions Program. A donation was made to the Public Health Leadership Institute. Students enrolled in WVU Department of Community Health, MPH program, were invited to attend the Conference. 1999: – An Educational Committee was formed, combining the Educational Scholarship Grants and Continuing Education Committee. The first educational scholarships will be awarded at the banquet this year; 3/4 (3 candidates) for candidates seeking degrees or public health related continuing education in awards up to $500 each and 1 /4 of funds for certificate or continuing education students in awards of up to $100 each. The FOCT Section explored the possibilities of a web site for WVPHA: one was established and should be on line in July or August. A revised Operating Code was put into effect. The theme of Public Health Awareness week was "Healthy People in Healthy Communities". WVPHA- Association of Local Health Departments, working with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, were successful in helping restore the 4.3 million dollars in transitional money, that was feared left out of the Governor’s budget. Some themes of conferences in the 90’s included "Environmental Health - An Endangered State"; "Pennies to Prevent - Dollars to Cure"; "Healthy Children - Healthy West Virginia". Among subjects discussed were Going Back in Time, Woman’s Services Update, Environmental Issues, Child Neglect and Abuse, Planning for Grants and Future programs, among others. Theme chosen for the 1999 Conference was: "75 Years of Progress". The fourteen Sections of WVPHA include: Dental, Environmental Health, Finance, Operations and Computer Technology, Health Administration, Health Education, Lab/Epidemiology, Local Health Officers, Nutrition, Professional Clerical, Public Health Nursing, Public Health Retirees, WV Association of Local Health Departments, WV Family of Home Health Agencies and WV Primary Care Association.
The Association had their annual meeting at Snowshoe Resort and Conference Center. We had a great program “Public Health 2000 – A Look to the Future” featuring three national speakers. Gary Marshall, MD, opened the conference about the importance of immunizations. The second keynote speaker was Charles Wolfe talking about how the public can win the battle against tobacco. To close out the 2000 annual conference, Tim Gard presented a motivational talk about “Developing a Comic Vision”. 2001 – The 2001 Annual Conference, held at Canaan Valley Resort, was saddened by the death of our President, Joy Gower. Mark Whittaker, President-Elect, stepped in and provided “A Public Health Odyssey” to remember. Speakers from all over spoke on topics ranging from the challenges of the public health workforce to shaping the future of public health. 2002 – “Public Health Excellence in an Ever Changing World” at the Radisson Hotel in Huntington West Virginia, gave the Association an overview of how public health has changed and is changing in the future. 2003 – Back to Canaan Valley Resort, President Tony Turner welcomed everybody and encouraged them in “Building Partnerships for the Future of Public Health”. Speakers included Bob Howard talking about issues and problems with bioterrorism and infections. The conference was ended early due to the onslaught of Hurricane Irene. 2004 – President Stan Walls asked speakers to address the continuing challenges for public health preparedness at the annual conference at the Radisson Hotel in Huntington, West Virginia. 2005 – Heading to the northern panhandle the Association held the annual conference at the Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling, West Virginia. President David Thornton invited speakers to address how “Public Health Affects Everyone – The Tradition Lives On”. 2006 – The annual conference was held at Canaan Valley Resort in Davis, West Virginia. President Julia Kerns opened the conference and introduced Chris Curtis, Acting Commissioner, Bureau for Public Health. 2007 – Staying in Northern West Virginia, the conference decided the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown would be a great place to hold the “Public Health-Promoting a Healthier West Virginia” conference. President Linda Whaley thanked all the hardworking public health workers who believe in promoting in striving for a healthier West Virginia. Chris Curtis, Acting Commissioner, and Dr. Rachel Abraham, WVU Department of Community Medicine, were the keynote speakers promoting public health and the public health workforce. 2008 – With the passing of President Steven Bayer, President-Elect, Bill Ours, welcomed everyone to the Snowshoe Resort for the 84th conference. The conference was dedicated to Steven R. Bayer, longtime sanitarian. Focusing on “Public Health Victories through Team Work”, Acting Commissioner Chris Curtis was the keynote speaker. 2009 – The 85th Annual Conference was held at Stonewall Jackson Resort and Conference Center in Roanoke, West Virginia. President Bill Ours told of seeing the world through the eyes of public health and facing the many challenges of the future. With the agenda of “Building Blocks for a Health West Virginia”, Senator Evan Jenkins was the opening keynote speaker. Talking about public policy efforts initiatives and working with the State Legislature. 2010 – President Jennifer Nestor opened the “A Healthy Life is a Life Well Lived” conference at Canaan Valley Resort and Conference Center. WVDHHR Secretary Patsy Hardy welcomed everyone. She then turned the session over to Chris Curtis, Acting Commissioner, for updates on the Bureau for Public Health. 2011 – Again heading to the Morgantown area, President Bill Kearns welcome everyone to the Lakeview Resort and Conference Center and the “Community Health is Community Wealth” conference. WVDHHR Secretary Michael Lewis welcomed everyone and introduced keynote speaker Chris Curtis, the new DHHR Health Resources Development Director. Ms. Curtis talked about “Building Healthy Communities Through Public Health. 2012 – Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling held the 88th Annual WVPHA Conference. President Jessica Douglas welcomed everyone and introduced WVDHHR Cabinet Secretary Rocco Fucillo. Mr. Fucillo then introduced the new Bureau for Public Health Commissioner, Marian Swinker, MD, MPH. Dr. Swinker, although new, expressed her vision of public health and where she would like to see the Bureau go. 2013 – President Jeff Fowler opened the “Public Health: West Virginia’s Best Investment” conference at the Snowshoe Resort and Conference Center. He expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve on the Executive Council and thanked everyone for their hard work and dedication to protecting the Public Health of all West Virginian’s. Keynote speakers were Carrie Brainard from Change the Future Initiative and Michelle Lynn, From the Duke Center for Community Research.