Brief History

In the early years of the Borough, Board members conducted sanitary inspections on a voluntary basis.  As the town grew in population, the Board hired a registrar of vital statistics to issue marriage, birth and death certificates, and added a public health nurse to protect the community.  Eventually, a part-time paid sanitary inspector was hired to make sanitary inspections and handle complaints of a public health nature.  A plumbing-sewer inspector, once another part-time employee of the Board of Health, was transferred to the Construction Department when the Uniform Construction Act was passed in the 1980s. 

The Local Health Services Act passed by the New Jersey legislature in 1977 and effective April 1, 1978, mandated that all muncipal health departments must be under the administration of a full-time health officer.  Other required positions were nurse supervisor and health educator although these positions need not necessarily be full-time ones.  With this new act, a broad array of public health activities, services and programs were now required, however, the Board of Health continued to be the responsible body for policy and oversight.  To meet the Local Health Services Act, Emerson chose to contract with the Township of Washington to share their full-time health officer and to purchase other personnel and services to complement the ones they already provided.

On December 9, 2002, the New Jersey Public Health Council passed Public Health Practice Standards which will replace the current Minimum Standards of Performance for Local Boards of Health.  When this new regulation becames law, a county-wide public health planner, epidemiologist and information technologist will be shared by all seventy Bergen County municipalities.  Population-based planning, infectious disease outbreaks, bio-terrorism and emergency response will all be a collaberative and partnered effort between the county and municipal health departments.