Article 5 - Department of Health - Code

Section  5.01   Department of health; commissioner. 

5.02   Powers and duties.

5.03   Deputies.

5.04   Board of health.

5.05   Sanitary code.

5.06   County laboratory; assistant director.

5.07   Seal of department of health.

5.08  Office of Health Equity

Section 5.01 Department of health; commissioner.

The county health department shall be headed by a commissioner who shall possess the qualifications required by section five hundred one of article 5 of the county charter.

Section 5.02 Powers and duties.

The commissioner of health shall have and exercise all the powers and duties conferred or imposed upon her or him by the county charter, by this code, by any applicable act of the legislature not inconsistent with the county charter or this code and by order or direction of the county executive.

Section 5.03 Deputies.

a. The county health commissioner may, within the appropriations provided therefor, appoint to serve at her or his pleasure, such deputies, assistant deputies, directors, and other employees as she or he may deem necessary for the performance of her or his duties and to fulfill the purposes of article three of the public health law in the county health district. Such deputies and assistant deputies and other employees shall have the qualifications prescribed in the state sanitary code.

b. The county health commissioner shall designate a deputy qualified in accordance with the provisions of the state sanitary code to whom shall be delegated all the powers and duties of the county health commissioner when such commissioner is unable to act by reason of absence or disability. Such designation shall be in writing filed and recorded in the office of the Erie county clerk and in such other places as may be required by the public health law or any other applicable law.

Section 5.04 Board of health.

The county executive shall appoint the members of the board of health in accordance with the provisions of section five hundred three of article 5 of the county charter. Such members shall be residents of the county health district. The county medical society of the county may submit to the county executive a list of physicians from which the county executive may choose the medical members of the board of health. The terms of the members of the board of health first appointed by the county executive shall be made for the respective terms of six, five, four, three, two and one years. Vacancies shall be filled by appointment for the unexpired terms. The board of health shall elect annually a chairman, vice-chairman and a secretary from among its members. Meetings of the board of health shall be held at the call of the commissioner of health or the chairman of such board on five days written notice mailed to the last known address of such board members. The board of health shall have and exercise the powers and duties conferred or imposed upon such board by the county charter or this code. The board of health shall make recommendations and suggestions to the county executive relative to the qualifications and appointments of the commissioner of health and relative to the qualifications and duties of the deputy commissioners, officers or employees of the department of health.

Section 5.05 Sanitary code.

a. The provisions of the Erie county sanitary code in effect at the time of the effective date of this code shall remain in full force and effect until amended or repealed by the board of health, provided, however, that the powers and duties for the enforcement of the county sanitary code shall on and after January first, nineteen hundred sixty-one, be vested in the commissioner of health.

b. Any sanitary code now in force or hereafter adopted by the board of health pursuant to the provisions of section five hundred four and article 5 of the county charter and any amendment to such sanitary code shall be published and filed in the manner and places required by the public health law and any other applicable law. Before adopting any amendment to the sanitary code the board of health shall cause notice of a public hearing thereon to be published in the official newspapers once a week for two publications and at least twenty days shall elapse from the first publication to the date of the hearing. The notice shall contain an abstract statement of the proposed amendment and give the time and place of such hearing. On or before the date of the first publication of the proposed amendment, copies thereof shall be filed with the clerk of the county legislature, the county executive, the clerk of each city, town and village in Erie county and in the office of the commissioner of health and be open to inspection by the public. Such county sanitary code and any amendments thereto shall also be filed in the Erie county clerk’s office.

Section 5.06 County laboratory; assistant director.

The county executive shall appoint an assistant director of the laboratory who shall possess the qualifications required by section five hundred five of the county charter. The assistant director shall exercise all the powers and duties heretofore or hereafter conferred or imposed upon her or him by the county charter, by this code, by local law, by order or direction of the county executive, by order or direction of the commissioner of health and by any applicable act of the legislature not inconsistent with the county charter or this code. Such powers and duties shall include but shall not be limited to any power or duty conferred or imposed upon a county laboratory board and the director of a county laboratory district by the public health law or other applicable law.

Section 5.07 Seal of department of health.

The seal of the County of Erie shall be the seal of the Commissioner of the Department of Health.  The Commissioner of the Department of Health shall affix or imprint such seal upon any and all instruments requiring same.

Section 5.08 Office of Health Equity.*

There shall be within the Erie County Department of Heath’s Division of Health an Office of Health Equity headed by a Director of Health Equity.  The Director of Health Equity shall assist the Erie County Commissioner of Health in carrying out the following functions of the Office of Health Equity.

a. Analyze disparities in health, health care, and availability/accessibility to health care services among disadvantaged and marginalized Erie County populations;

b. Understand and connect factors that contribute to health outcomes including the physical environment, the social determinants of health, access to clinical care, and health behaviors;

c. Make recommendations for improving delivery and access to health services for disadvantaged and marginalized populations working within the Live Well Erie framework and supporting Live Well Erie objectives for improving the social determinants of health to relevant local health care agencies, and to the County Executive, County Legislature, and Commissioner of Health;

d. Pilot models and programs to improve health disparities;

e. Promote public awareness and coordinate educational events in partnership with other health agencies with the goal of supporting healthy lifestyles in disadvantaged and marginalized communities and groups;

f. Publish an initial needs assessment report within 18 months of the effective date of this Local Law.  Such report shall present baseline data describing health disparities among racial and sexual minority populations in Erie County. The report will highlight gaps in available data and services.  On an annual basis thereafter, the Commissioner of Health shall deliver to the County Executive and County Legislature, an update report of OHE’s achievements, including but not limited to, programs and services provided to advance health equity, data on populations served via OHE’s outreach, and the Office’s goals for the upcoming year.  This annual report shall include disaggregated data to account for identifiers, including, but not limited to, race and zip code.  The report shall also identify outcomes achieved in the context of race and zip code; and

g. In Collaboration with the Erie County Department of Health Community Health Assessment (CHA), develop a specific health disparities report as part of Erie County Department of Health’s CHA prepared every three years as required by NYS and to monitor and incorporate other health disparity data already collected in the region by organizations including (but not limited to) the University at Buffalo and the Buffalo Center for Health Equity.

(*Added by Local law 3-1 2021, effective 12-21-21)