The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

Main menu


Get to know your local health department

The Oak Park Public Health Department was established by Village ordinance in 1905 and was first led by Dr. Frank Needham. The Department became a state-certified local health department in 1949.

In 1922, the first President-appointed board of health was established and it included Dr. Charles E. Hemingway, Ernest’s father, as a member. The early years of the Health Department were marked by the response to three epidemics: Typhoid in 1915, the Spanish flu in 1918, and smallpox in 1920.

This year the Health Department celebrates 119 years since our founding and 75 years since receiving its state certification.

The modern-day Health Department is made up of 13 employees, three part-time employees, two interns and one consultant across the following divisions:  Animal Control, Emergency Preparedness, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, the Farmers’ Market, Grants Coordination, Health Education, Leadership and Administration and Public Health Nursing.

The Health Department protects community health and economic vitality by upholding policies that improve the public's health, like state and Village policies that govern the sale and public use of tobacco.

Oak Park health officials are continuously assessing the community’s health needs to improve our ability to promote and maintain better health outcomes.

A quick snapshopt of each Health Department divison:

Animal Control...The Village's Animal Control officer enforces local ordinances related to domestic animals and also addresses nuisance or dangerous animal complaints. By law, the Animal Control Officer can only assist with nuisance wildlife cases where the animal (such a skunk, opossum, coyote or racoon) appears injured, sick or aggressive. The Animal Control officer also oversees the pet licensing program and offers guidance on responsible pet ownership. In addition, this position manages Oak Park's rodent abatement programs.  

Environmental Health...This division plays a crucial role in preventing environmentally-related illnesses and promoting a healthy community. The Environmental Health team inspects and regulates food establishments, tanning salons, daycares, and other facilities to ensure compliance with health codes and promote safe environments. These staff members also address issues related to air and water quality, lead hazards and the spread of pathogens by mosquitos and birds.

Emergency Preparedness...The Village's Emergency Preparedness Coordinator develops and maintains plans to respond effectively to public health emergencies 24/7, such as disease outbreaks, natural disasters and bioterrorism threats. This position coordinates with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure a coordinated response and provide training and resources to the community.

Epidemiology...The Health Department's staff epidemiologist investigates and monitors the spread of diseases within the community, identifies risk factors and implements control measures to prevent further transmission. This position analyzes data to detect patterns and trends, and provide guidance to healthcare providers and the public.

Farmers' Market...The Farmers' Market Manager organizes and manages the Oak Park Farmers' Market, providing a venue for community members to access fresh, locally grown produce and other food products. This position also leads community nutrition programming. In 2024, the Market will be held from May 18 through October 26. This long-time cornerstone of the Village supports local agriculture, promotes healthy eating habits and fosters a sense of community.

Grants Coordination...The Health Department's work is supported in large part by grant funds, and in a typical year, between 15 and 20 grants sustain our programming. The Health Department's Grants Coordinator is responsible for researching and identifying grant opportunities that align with the Department's priorities and initiatives. This position meticulously prepares grant applications, ensuring all requirements are met and budgets are accurately projected to maximize funding potential. Once awarded, the Grants Coordinator closely manages the budget and reporting processes with program staff to ensure compliance with our multiple funders' terms and conditions.

Health Education...The Health Education team develops and delivers educational programs and resources to promote healthy behaviors and prevent disease and injury. This programming is often delivered in close collaboration with community organizations to provide information on health topics that are relevant to Oak Park community members. You'll often see this team at community events like A Day in Our Village, back-to-school events, block parties and community festivals. This division provides training to community members on topics like opioid overdose prevention. This team is also responsible for health communications for the Department, including social media, print materials and health alerts.

Leadership and Administration...The Health Director provides strategic leadership and oversight for all programs and services, ensuring they meet the community's public health needs. As the highest-ranking public health official, they make key decisions, develops policies and represent the Health Department in interactions with community stakeholders. The Administrative Assistant supports the Health Director and other staff by managing schedules, assisting with board and commission correspondence, staff meetings, budget tracking and organizational tasks to keep the Health Department running efficiently.

Public Health Nursing...The Public Health Nursing division provides a range of preventive and health promotion services, such as immunizations and wellness screenings. This division is on the front lines of helping to manage and control communicable disease outbreaks in our community. This division also offers education and support to both community members and health care providers for managing chronic conditions and promoting healthy lifestyles.