What is Public Health?

Promote Optimal Health

Public Health covers a variety of activities designed to prevent the spread of disease and promote optimal health. It has been defined as “the art and science of maintaining, protecting and prolonging the health of the people through organized community effort”.

Promote A Healthy Community

Our activities primarily concentrate on prevention and education services to promote a healthy community. Most public health activities within a community are initiated by the local health department, with the approval of the board of health within its jurisdiction, which is the local health district.


Our vision is to have the healthiest community possible where residents can enjoy optimal physical, emotional, and environmental health.


Our mission is to assess, maintain, and improve the health and safety of the environment and community through quality public health services.

Essential Services for Public Health

  1. Monitor health status to identify community health problems.
  2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community.
  3. Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues.
  4. Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve health problems.
  5. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.
  6. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety.
  7. Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provisions of health care when otherwise unavailable.
  8. Assure a competent Public Health care workforce.
  9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services.
  10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.


Richland Public Health personnel provide quality, customer focused, services with respect for the diversity of the needs of the individual and the community.


Richland Public Health personnel are accountable to the residents of Richland County to behave responsibly and in a trustworthy manner in the provision of services to the citizens of Richland County.


Richland Public Health personnel use innovation in public health through teamwork among health department divisions and with our community partners to respond to the needs of our community.

Our History

In 1893, the State of Ohio required all municipalities to establish a Board of Health (although a “Health Department” was not required).

In 1919, the Hughes Act and Griswold Amendment created city and general health districts with varying restrictions on full-time and part-time personnel. Our Local Health Department was ahead of that Act, starting in 1910 in the City of Mansfield to protect and promote the health and welfare of the public. Our Public Health system evolved to include not just the City of Mansfield but all of Richland County, although our City and County Health Boards did not merge until 1986.

From the 1920s to the 1950s the Health Department was located in a house, the Ohio Theater, and City Hall. In 1959 the Health Department moved to its first official home when the city bought the Bristor Mansion at 600 West Third Street. A staff of 22 provided services to 82,000 residents. In 1980, the Health Clinic moved from Third Street to the Beatty TB Clinic on Lexington Avenue, although the rest of the Health Department continued to be located at Third Street.

In 1992, after four years of planning, the Health Board approved construction of additions to the Beatty Clinic to put all departments under one roof on the corner of Lexington Avenue and Sterkel Blvd. The move to the new building was completed in 1993.

The name has changed many times, from the Mansfield Health Department to Mansfield/Richland County Health Department to Mansfield/Ontario/Richland County Health Department (when Ontario obtained city status) and in 2014 to Richland Public Health and the adoption of a new logo.

Today, Richland Public Health includes all of Richland County with the exception of the City of Shelby which has its own City Health Department with a staff of two employees. The history of public health and boards of health reflects the growth and urbanization of Ohio.


Cincinnati and Columbus formally established boards of health.


Any Ohio city permitted to establish a board of health and city councils allowed to formulate regulations.


Township trustees given limited authority to prevent spread of small pox through quarantine.


State Board of Health organized.


All municipalities required to establish a board of health.


City of Mansfield starts its own City Health Department.


Hughes Act and Griswold Amendment creates city and general health districts with varying restrictions on fulltime and part-time personnel including health commissioners and nurses.


State director of health to be appointed by governor and term to be concurrent with the governor.


Standards established for local health departments.


Local health departments permitted to charge costs for all state-required environmental health programs.