Physician Focus for July: Boards of Health

In 1799, Paul Revere was appointed chairman of the Commonwealth’s first Board of Health in Boston and was given broad authority to control deadly epidemics and environmental contamination. More than 200 years later, today’s health boards, while charged with many more responsibilities, have much the same purpose: to provide for the public’s health and safety.  They have been given the obligation and authority by the state legislature to protect the public health and welfare, similar to powers given to local police and fire departments.

The July episode of Physician Focus examines how public health efforts are conducted at the community level with senior executives of the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (MAHB).  The program discusses the responsibilities of the boards, their enforcement powers, how they’re managed and operated, the challenges they face in performing their duties, how they balance individual rights and behaviors while maintaining standards of health and safety for the entire community, and how they relate to other local and state agencies.

Guests are Christopher Quinn, M.D. (photo, center) and Ms. Cheryl Sbarra (right).  Dr. Quinn is Director of Occupational Health Services at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, Mass., a physician with the Attleboro Health Department, and President of MAHB. Ms. Sbarra is the staff attorney for MAHB and provides legal consultation, policy guidance and technical assistance to boards of health and municipal governments throughout the Commonwealth.  Hosting this edition is B. Dale Magee, M.D. (left), MMS past president.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at, and on YouTube. 

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