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Here’s why Pasadena has its own Health Department

Readers asked so we sought out the answer

Published on Tuesday, April 21, 2020 | 10:28 am

Since the Coronavirus pandemic began readers have been asking why Pasadena has its own health department, so we asked city officials.

First a little history, in 1886, Pasadena was just the second city incorporated in LA County. Los Angeles of course was the first.

Six years after incorporation, in 1892 the city started its own health department, according to Manual Carmona, Pasadena deputy health director.

By 1898 there were 10 incorporated cities in LA County, after Santa Monica, Monrovia, Pomona, South Pasadena, Compton, Redondo Beach, Long Beach and Whittier also incorporated.

Each of the cities had some semblance of their own health departments at some point.

Then science kicked in according to Carmona.

“At the time, every city had their own health department, until science advanced the idea that contagious diseases don’t stop at city boarders,” he said.

According to Carmona, the county started taking more responsibility, and many cities gave their public health department responsibilities over to the county

Pasadena, and several other cities — more on that later — did not shut down their city health departments and maintained local control over public health issues while working closely with  partners at the county level.

“Since 1892, the Pasadena Public Health Department has been responsible for helping protect, maintain and improve the health of the Pasadena community,” he said. “Pasadena’s Public Health Department is longstanding, and we never gave it up.”

Local residents benefit by having a more responsive department truly tuned-in to Pasadena’s unique needs and how to address them.

By the way the oft-repeated claim that Pasadena is one of just three cities in California with its own health department is not true. There are four cities that have health departments, Pasadena, Long Beach, Berkeley and Vernon.

On a side note, the claim of three has been repeated by every reporter in town, and most that have left, including me.  Pasadena is just one of three cities in Southern California with its own health department.

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