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    Division for Regional and Local Health Operations

    1100 West 49th Street, Room M149, MC 1908
    Austin, TX 78756

    Phone: (512) 776-7770
    Fax: (512) 776-7590

Department of State Health Services Appointed Health Authority

Established during the 79th Legislative session, through the Local Public Health Re-Organization Act, Health and Safety Code (HSC), Chapter 121, health authorities (HA) serve as a critical part of the state’s public health system.  Through statute, the health authority is a physician appointed under the provisions in statute within their jurisdictional boundaries. Health authorities are considered an officer of the state when performing duties prescribed by state law.

Duties of health authorities consist of activities necessary to implement and enforce laws to protect the public’s health.  These duties can include:

  • Establishing, maintaining, and enforcing jurisdictional quarantine orders;
  • Aiding local boards of health, local health departments in quarantine inspections, disease prevention and suppression efforts, birth and death statistics and general sanitation issues within their jurisdiction;
  • Reporting the presence of contagious, infectious and dangerous epidemic diseases to local and state authorities;
  • Aiding local jurisdictions, boards of health in carrying out public health required rules, ordinances, sanitation laws, quarantine rules, and required reporting of any vital statistics collected.

Qualifications and Appointment

A health authority must meet the following qualifications if appointed.  They must be:

  • A competent physician with a reputable professional standing who is legally qualified to practice medicine in the state of Texas;
  • A Texas resident.

In order to serve as a health authority appointees must complete the following actions using the required forms and instructions (link provided below):

  • Take and subscribe to the official oath; and
  • File the original copies of the statement of appointed officer, oath of office, and certificate of appointment locally, while submitting copies of the originals with the appropriate Regional Medical Director in the Public Health Region at the Department of State Health Services.

Required Forms for Appointment of Health Authorities

Health authorities are appointed for two year terms, and where appropriate, alternates can be appointed through the process noted above.  Delegations of authority can be applied to an appointed alternate health authority in the event the acting health authority is absent or incapacitated.

Health Authority Training

Based on a survey of HAs in 2012, several areas of training needs were identified.  The Division for Regional and Local Health Operations developed the first continuing education certified online learning module, Health Authorities: Overview, in collaboration with our Texas Health Steps Provider Program.

In addition to the online module, trending topical webinars based on HA interests are in the planning stages, in addition to DSHS and Texas Public Health Association (TPHA) HA workshops held in conjunction with the TPHA annual education conference.   

Last updated August 24, 2018