Since 1935….. Some High Points Along the Way
This is a collection of items taken from over sixty years of Executive Committee reports, Board of Directors minutes, Annual Meeting programs, WSPHA Newsletters, files and other documents. We would like to thank the members of the original Historical Committee and others for their time and effort in making this history possible: Jack Mathews, Jo McNeil, Chuck Treser, John Beare, George Hilton, Kay DeRoos, Sandy Lehman, and Elsie Juntunen.
The reader is invited to submit missing information or records so that we can build a more complete picture of our Association’s past. Please send additional items of historical significance to the WSPHA office.
WSPHA Historical Committee
1921 – The Washington state legislature passed the Administrative Code which provided for a state department of health administered by a state director of health. In 1933 at the request of the director and the president of the state medical association the United States Public Health Service made a survey of public health administration in the state. On June 1, 1933 Doctor Erval R. Coffee, on loan from the USPHS, became the State Director of Health. Under Dr. Coffee the department was reorganized and the establishment of more full-time county health units was emphasized.
1934 – Dr. Coffee called together a group of community leaders and state and local health department representatives to explore the possibility of establishing a public health association. He pointed out that rapid transportation and interchange of persons and products spreads problems statewide, not just locally, and that public health administration goes beyond police control of communicable disease and sanitation. The meeting was held at Washington State College (now WSU) at Pullman, Washington. The first annual meeting of the state Public Health Association was held in Wenatchee in 1935.
In the early days of the Association there were three sections -health officers, nurses, and sanitarians.
1938 – The Association investigated affiliating with the American Public Health Association. To accomplish this, half of the members of the state association had to be members or fellows of APHA Affiliation. This was accomplished in 1949.
Because of World War II the Association held no annual meetings in 1941 and 1945. In 1942 the Western Branch of the APHA held its meeting in Seattle, Donald G. Evans, MD, was president. Discussions centered on public health wartime problems. During the meeting WSPHA held a business meeting and the Western Washington Sanitarian Association and the Washington State Organization for Public Health Nursing held dinner meetings.
1944 – The WSPHA annual meeting was designated a ‘Wartime Conference.
1950 – In order to assist in the coordination and communication of the many organizations and agencies involved in the health field the Washington State Health Council was established. Charter members were:
- Washington State Dental Association
- Washington State Department of Health
- Washington State Hospital Association
- Washington State Medical Association
- Washington State Nurses Association
- Washington State Pharmaceutical Association
There were thirty-one active member groups and eight associate members and WSPHA made a yearly financial contribution to the council.
1951-58 – In order to keep the membership better informed the Association decided to publish a quarterly newsletter. It was called “The Health Herald.” In 1952 the name was changed to the “WSPHA Newsletter.”
The early 1950′s were the years of the Korean War and civil defense became an important part of daily living. The Association cooperated in joint sponsorship of regional meetings on civil defense preparedness. Fluoridation of public water supplies became a subject of great interest and the Association joined with others in promotion of this pubic health measure.
The early 1950′s was also the time of the Wetzel Grid, a new approach to measuring the growth and development of children.
By 1953 three additional sections had been added to the Association – health education, laboratory, and clerical and statistical. Also in 1953, the state was divided into three regions to facilitate regional meetings – western, northeast, and southeast.
In the early 1950′s there was a great deal of discussion about the relationship between APHA, the Western Branch of APHA and state associations. Thirteen western state associations and three western Canadian provinces were anxious that APHA establish a branch office in the west. Such an office was established in 1958 in San Francisco and was financed by the APHA
1959 – The Association presented its first Annual Award to Cedric Northrop, MD, for his many years of service in the field of tuberculosis control. This year marked the formation of the Western Branch Continuing Education Committee. The Association formed the Membership Services Committee with Tom Drummey as chairman. These two committees brought many seminars and workshops to the membership.
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.
1961 - Sanford P. “Sandy” Lehman, MD, was elected president of the Western Branch of APHA.
1962 – A meeting was held in San Mateo, California to consider reorganization of the Western Branch. Representatives attended the meeting from each state. The final outcome after polling the membership was an affiliation of state associations that, along with APHA, financed the Western Branch.
1963 – The Association suggested to the Western Branch that something on smoking and health be included in the program at its meeting in Salt Lake City in 1964. The Association urged health departments, schools, and other organizations to take vigorous action to increase health education programs on smoking and health.
1967 – The Association was active in promoting the control of the sale of raw milk (resolution by executive committee). This year marked the election of Tom Drummey as president of the Western Branch. In 1968 he retired from the State Department of Health and became the first executive director of the WSPHA in January 1969 with an office in the Smith Tower in Seattle.
1968 – In November Seattle voters passed the resolution to fluoridate its water supplies.
1969 – Governor Dan Evans proposed the formation of the super agency combining the state departments of health, institutions, and welfare into the Department of Social and Health Services. The late sixties were peak years for continuing education sponsored by Western Branch of APHA. WSPHA selected three or four continuing education topics each year and these were usually presented in Yakima in order to make the sessions more available to members in Eastern Washington. Tom Drummey was the key leader in this effort along with members of the Continuing Education Committee.
In December, Tom Drummey suffered a heart attack and passed away. In 1979 the Association honored him by setting up the Tom Drummey Award to be presented to an individual who has demonstrated continuing interest in, and support of, WSPHA activities. The recipient must be a present or past member of the Association and a Washington state resident. John Church was the first recipient of the award. He received this award for his many services and in particular for his assistance and leadership in managing the finances of the association in one role or another.
1970 – Washington state was economically depressed and it became a time of unrest. As a potential fundraiser for continuing education along with profits from the sale of swimming pool manuals the Association sold “Isolation Cards” to hospitals.
1971 – This year saw that cigarette commercials were banned from U.S. television.
1972 – Seiko Baba, new Executive Director of Western Branch of APHA offered to assist WSPHA with the newsletter and mailings. Six regional offices were developed to increase the involvement of the members. Each region had a “convener” as a lead.
1973 – This year Oregon and Washington had a joint Public Health Association meeting for the first time. Joint meetings have been held periodically since then.
1975 – Members of WSPHA helped to implement the new State Board of Health regulation prohibiting smoking in certain places. Also, the University of Washington, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, held an open house at the Health Science Building as part of the annual meeting in Seattle.
1976 – WSPHA held a “logo” contest. “Alternatives for Washington” was a state wide health planning effort. Edward Lindaman, Chairperson, presented this group’s findings at the annual WSPHA meeting.
1977 – The focus was on recruiting new leaders for the Executive Board and the Legislative Committee. One such leader was Caswell Evans who became President of WSPHA in 1980 and in 1995 he was the elected President of APHA.
1979 – Dues were increased to $20. This was the year of the first Executive Retreat at Alpental, Snoqualamie Pass. It was held to develop long range goals and to build a support system within the Board. Dr. Robert Rushmer and Dr. Tom Sine led the 2-day workshop. The nursing section was reactified and the dental section was organized.
1980 – Mount Saint Helen exploded with a force five hundred times that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Inches of ash caused many environmental problems for the public health experts. WSPHA Surveyed 800 public health professionals on their continuing educational interest as a basis for planning future programs. The Association began an increased effort in the use of exercise to improve health. Improving the body had become a national obsession.
1981 – The “Swimming Pool Operation, A Manual for Operators” was revised and the marketing was expanded.
1982 - Tricia Corbett, WSHPA Past President, was elected to the APHA Executive Board. She later became Chairperson of the Executive Board.
1983 - WSPHA initiated an attempt at developing a Public Health Coalition in the State of Washington.
1984 – A joint annual meeting was held with Oregon. Increasing cost of medical care and its effect on public health was a priority concern.
1985 – Managed health care was on the national political agenda and WSPHA included a number of sessions on this topic at its annual meeting. WSPHA’s Legislative Committee became actively involved in the effort to reestablish a State Public Health Department. This became a four-year effort involving not only WSPHA., but also the Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials (WSALPHO), the Environmental Health Directors, the Community Health Nursing Directors, and many other individuals and organizations.
1986 – The annual meeting focused on the nuclear age and was held in Pasco, Washington close to the Hanford Reservation.
1987 – WSPHA co-hosted the annual meeting with the Public Health Services, Region X.
1988 – A Joint annual conference focusing on Partnerships in Public Health was held with the Oregon Public Health Association, just across the state line in Oregon on the Columbia River. At the annual business meeting, the membership approved the amendment of the Association By-Laws creating six regions: Region 1: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Orielle, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman counties; Region 2: Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Kittitas and Yakima counties; Region 3: Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties; Region 4: King County; Region 5: Kitsap and Pierce counties; Region 6: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Klickitat, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Skamania, Thurston and Wahkiakum counties. Each region was entitled to elect a vice-president to represent the interests of the members in that region on the Association Board of Directors.
1989 – WSPHA elected the first six regional vice presidents. The state Legislature passed an Act re-establishing the State Department of Health. Kristine Gebbe was appointed as the First Secretary of the new Department.
1990 – Another Joint annual conference was held with the Oregon Public Health Association, this time on the Washington side of the Columbia River.
1992 – WSPHA celebrated Public Health Week in April as a part of a national effort to bring increased awareness of the work done by public health professionals.
1993 – Health System Reform was again on the national political agenda and Washington was on the cutting edge. The Washington Health Services Act created an opportunity for the public health community to strengthen participation as a major player in the state’s health reform effort. The WSPHA Nursing Section sponsored the production of the video “Opening Doors: Public Health Nursing in its 100th Year” and a book of the same name.
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.
1995 – WSPHA hired Kay DeRoos as its Association Manager. The WSPHA video, Opening Doors, received two national awards. Sales of the video to Schools of Nursing provided financial support for WSPHA. The 60th Anniversary of WSPHA (1935 – 1995) was celebrated at the Second Annual Washington State Joint Conference on Health held in Yakima in September.
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.
1997 – In January a historical document, A Celebration of 60 Years,” was printed and sent to all WSPHA members. This document was the result of the WSPHA Historical Committee’s efforts on the occasion of WSPHA’s 60th anniversary in 1995. The historical document will be updated each year. A WSPHA Membership Directory was compiled and distributed to all membership in March. Besides contact information, the directory included the “interest areas” of the members and listed all the Association committee members. A Guidebook to accompany the Opening Doors to Public Health Nursing video was prepared this year. This Guidebook will be marketed in 1998 by T. S. Media.
1998 – At the beginning of the year the Association purchased its own computer to complement the other office equipment purchased in 1997. In the spring the swimming pool manual became available. The document, Pool Operator’s Manual: A Guide for Safe and Healthy Operation of Swimming and Spa Pools, was jointly published by the Washington State Public Health Association and the Washington State Environmental Health Association and copyrighted in 1997. In December the Executive Board decided to prepare a contract with the National Environmental Health Association to market the swimming pool manual. In June the Executive Board began a formal process of strategic planning for the next three to five years. In October Dr. Mohammad Akhter, the Executive Director for APHA, met with WSPHA leaders to assist with leadership development within the Association. At its Annual Business Meeting on October 5th in Yakima, Washington the members of the Association adopted six resolutions: Tobacco Advertising; Controlling Hepatitis A; Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); Life Jackets, Children and Boats; Breast Cancer Screening; and Unintended Pregnancy.
1999 – At the beginning of the year the Association welcomed Mary Selecky as the new Secretary of the state Department of Health and Dr. Patricia Wahl as the new Dean of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Washington. Closer linkages were developed with our congressional delegation, the Legislature, the Washington State Medical Association, Immunix Corporation, Group Health, the Hepatitis C Coalition and many others. The WSPHA web site successfully accomplished the electronic submission of abstracts for the Joint Conference on Health. The web site also affords the opportunity to link easily to CDC, APHA, the NW Center for Public Health Practice, DOH, SEARCHN, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Project, the NW Center for Occupational Health and Safety, the Washington Environmental Health Association and HRSA. During Public Health Week in April WSPHA, prominently displayed banners of the celebration in office buildings in Olympia. WSPHA members in health departments across the state sponsored various activities, including an education campaign in local grocery stores, blood drives, food drives, water testing and health fairs featured oral and cholesterol screenings and blood pressure checks.
Through a grant from the American Public Health Association, a Medicine and Public Health Congress was convened in April with WSPHA and the Washington State Medical Association as co-sponsors. This was a first effort in our state to unite groups for a discussion of the major health issues in Washington including antibiotic resistance, immunization and asthma. The project brought together doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, health planners, health educators and administrators. An Executive Summary was prepared and a full report will be available in January 2000. Members will be invited to join in this endeavor for further discussions and collaboration.
At its Annual Business Meeting on October 4th in Spokane, Washington the members of the Association adopted six resolutions: Hepatitis A Vaccination; Access to Sterile Syringes and Needles; Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD); Fluoridation of Public Water Systems; Opposing Initiative 695; and Health Care 2000 Voter Initiative.
2000 - In January of this year, Kay DeRoos resigned as Executive Director for WSPHA. Kathy Kimsey was hired as the new Executive Secretary and Joint Conference on Health Coordinator. WSPHA began efforts to invite other organizations to board meetings as “information exchange” opportunities. WSPHA expanded other non-voting members of the board such as a Student and APHA Representative. WSPHA updated its membership brochure. The organization also purchased its own domain name www.wspha.org for its web site. Governor Gary Locke signed three proclamations; 1) WSPHA promotes April as Public Health Month. 2) October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. 3) September is Minority Health Month.
At the Annual Business Meeting on October 2nd in Tacoma, Washington the members of the Association adopted three resolutions: Reducing Gun Violence; Resolution to Endorse Initiative 245, and Statewide Public Health Standards. The membership also voted and passed an annual membership dues increase changing Regular Members from $30.00 to $40.00, Student Members from $10.00 to $20.00, and Retired Members from no charge to $20.00. This dues increase becomes effective January 1, 2001.
WSPHA continued work on its Strategic Plan. Between April and September of this year, the Board met three times with primary focus on advancing the strategic plan. It was decided that to assure the plan covered all critical areas the balanced scorecard methodology would be adopted. WSPHA Values: In conjunction with the American Public Health Association, WSPHA core values include health, equity, diversity, empowerment, integrity, dignity, and knowledge for individuals and communities in Washington State. WSPHA Vision: WSPHA is the leading advocacy organization for public health in Washington State. WSPHA Mission: To equip our members with the knowledge and skills to address public health challenges.
2001 - At the Annual Business Meeting on October 8th in Yakima, Washington the members of the Association adopted four resolutions: Affirming the Importance of Folic Acid in the Diets of Women of Childbearing Age; Reducing the Burden of Arthritis; Support for Initiative 773 – Tobacco Tax; and Averting a Public Health Crisis Caused by Drug Shortages. The Association members also voted on a by-laws change: Article VIII Committees to include two new committees: Partnerships and Strategic Planning Council.
2002 – Members approved two resolutions at the annual business meeting on October 7th in Wenatchee: Public health Funding for a Safer, Healthier Washington, and Preventing Human and Environmental Mercury Exposure and Harm, and sent a third, Stop Soft Drinks ‘Pouring Rights’ Contracts in Schools back to the Legislation& Policy Committee for re-writing. WSPHA launched the Public Health Advocacy Coalition at a reception at the Joint Conference on Health to network and problem-solve the issue of a permanent, stable funding source for public health. In December, the re-written resolution, now titled “Calling Upon School Officials to Partner with Public Health Officials to Improve Student Diets, Dietary Messages and Levels of Physical Activity” was circulated to WSPHA members via e-mail and voted on at the annual Health Legislative Conference at SeaTac.
2003 – During the 2003 legislative session, WSPHA members supported legislation establishing a tax to support a permanent stable funding source for public health, and convened a coalition of health, labor and health plan organizations to commission a poll of 600 households in Washington to assess voter receptivity to such a plan. Information from the poll indicated that people are unclear about what public health is and does, and thus would be unlikely to support a tax increase to pay for public health. The legislation failed. WSPHA also supported legislative efforts to improve nutrition in schools, and began partnering with a number of organizations to implement its 2002 policy resolution on improving student diets.
Four of five resolutions considered at the annual business meeting on October 13th in Yakima were adopted: Reducing Harm From Woodsmoke, Supporting Repeal of Certain Provisions of the Uniform Individual Accident and Sickness Policy Provision Law, Opposing Premera’s Conversion Proposal and Opposing Initiative 841. Enforcing Federal and State Regulations at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation failed.