WSPHA History

Washington State Public Health Association History

Since the creation of our state’s department of health in 1921, we have been working to improve the public’s health.

2013 ─ WSPHA hosts 20th annual conference. Endorses Initiative 594, an initiative to the Legislature to require universal background checks for firearms sales. The Legislature did not vote on I 594. Therefore, it will go to voters on the November ballot.

2012 ─ Membership approves two resolutions: Supporting Public Health Funding and Tobacco Pre-emption. WSPHA endorses Referendum 74, supporting marriage equality.

2011 ─ WSPHA hosts first Public Health Legislative Education Day in Olympia. Over 100 public health professionals and supporters hold meetings with legislators and staff to discuss the value of public health in their communities.

2010 ─ WSPHA begins using webinars to offer trainings. First webinars topics include health care reform, legislative session overview and community food resources. During legislative session, WSPHA helps win increased funding for maternity support services in 2011 budget and tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

2007 ─ Legislature passes Blue Ribbon Commission Bill, which aims to increase access to health care.

2006 ─ Joint Select Committee on Public Health Finances report estimates $315 million unmet funding gap for Washington’s public health system (LHJ spending would have to increase two fold to be considered adequate)

2003 ─ WSPHA selects advocacy as one of its core objectives.

2002 ─ WSPHA forms Public Health Advocacy Coalition to focus on the issue of permanent, stable funding for the state’s public health system. Membership approves three resolutions: Public Health Funding for a Safer, Healthier Washington; Preventing Human and Environmental Mercury Exposure and Harm; and Improving Student Diets: Dietary messages and levels of physical activity.

2000 ─ WSPHA establishes core values: health, equity, diversity, empowerment, integrity, dignity and knowledge and its intention to be the leading advocacy organization for public health. Membership passes three resolutions: Reducing Gun Violence, Endorsing Initiative 245 and Establishing Statewide Public Health Standards.

2001 ─ Membership passes four resolutions: Affirming Folic Acid in Diets of Women of Childbearing Age, Reducing Burden of Arthritis, Support for Tobacco Tax and Averting Public Health Crisis Caused by Drug Shortages.

1999 ─ Mary Selecky assumes position of Secretary of Health. WSPHA launches website to share information on Joint Conference and provide valuable resources to public health community. With grant from APHA, WSPHA co-sponsors Medicine and Public Health Congress to discuss major health issues in Washington, including antibiotic resistance, immunization and asthma.

1998 ─ WSPHA begins adopting policy resolutions to outline our policy position on public health issues. Membership adopts six resolutions at annual meeting: Against Tobacco Advertising; Re: Controlling Hepatitis A; Children’s Health Insurance Program; Life jackets, Children and Boats; Breast Cancer Screening; and Unintended Pregnancies.

1996 ─ At the Annual Business Meeting of Association on September 30, 1996 in Tacoma, Washington the members voted to abolish the existing Constitution and By-Laws (amended October, 1993) and adopt a new combined Constitution and By-Laws. The new document establishes four educational objectives for the Association under Article II, Purpose, and includes several other changes that reflect the current needs and functions of the Association.

1995 ─ Legislature establishes Public Health Improvement Partnership (PHIP) to evaluate public health system, identify resident and agencies needs, set service and practice standards and create performance evaluation measures. Legislature also institutes Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET), a percentage of which goes to county health departments.

1994 ─ Nutritionists formed a new WSPHA section. A record attendance was seen at the annual WSPHA meeting held in the Yakima Convention Center. This meeting was the first Joint Conference on Health combining the WSPHA Annual Conference with the Data Users Conference and the Infectious Disease Conference. The State Department of Health played a crucial role in facilitating the merger of these three meetings. Bruce Miyahara, Secretary, Washington State Department of Health and a leader in WSPHA, was instrumental in this successful conference merger.

1993 ─ Washington Health Services Act gives public health community an opportunity to contribute to state’s health reform effort. WSPHA Nursing Section produces video “Opening Doors: Public Health Nursing in its 100th Year”. Health Reform Act of 1993 transferred statutory responsibility for public health services from cities to counties (goes into effect in 1995).

1989 ─ Legislature re-establishes State Department of Health, with Kristine Gebbe as first Secretary of Health.

1980 ─ MCaswell Evans elected President of WSPHA (in 1995 he is elected President of APHA). Mount Saint Helen explodes, creating inches of ash Our colleagues work diligently to effectively address the ensuing environmental health problems.

1984 ─ Annual meeting focuses on increasing cost of medical care and effect on public health.

1985 ─ WSPHA Legislative Committee becomes actively involved in re-establishing separate State Department of Health.

1977 ─ WSPHA incorporates as 501 c 6 organization (trade and professional designation).

1975 ─ WSPHA members help implement State Board of Health regulation prohibiting smoking in certain places.

1971 ─ Cigarette commercials banned from television in U.S.

1969 ─ Tom Drummey becomes first Executive Director of WSPHA and establishes office in Smith Tower in downtown Seattle. Governor Dan Evans combines state departments of health, institutions and welfare into the Department of Social and Health Services.

1963 ─ WSPHA takes a stand against smoking, urging health departments, schools and other organizations to increase health education programs on smoking.

1961 ─ WSPHA Swimming Pool Operation: A Manual for Operators produces and begins selling it across the U.S. and internationally.

1960 ─ The Engineering Section of the State Health Department put together material for “Swimming Pool Operation: A Manual for Operators.” Tom Drummey suggested that the Association publish the manual and sell it as a means of raising funds for providing more services to the membership. This program was a great success and the manual was sold all over the U.S. as well as some foreign countries.

1950 ─ WSPHA becomes participant in Washington State Health Council, an organization that coordinates activities and communication among health focused agencies and organizations. Throughout the decade, WSPHA sponsors regional meetings on civil defense preparedness (an outgrowth of Korean War) and promotes fluoridation of public water supplies.

1949 ─ WSPHA becomes an affiliate of the American Public Health Association.

1944 ─ WSPHA Annual meeting designated a “Wartime Conference.”

1935 ─ Dr. Erval Coffey, State Director of Health, convenes community leaders and local health representatives to explore possibility of establishing public health association, prompted by statewide nature of various public health issues (due to rapid transportation and interchange of people and products). Coffey emphasized that public health administration transcended communicable disease and sanitation. WSPHA is formed. First annual meeting held in Wenatchee.

1921 ─ Washington State Legislature passes Administrative Code establishing State Department of Health.