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Laws Regarding the Appointment and Authority of Local Health and Deputy Officers

Appointment of Health Officers (RSA 128:1)

State law defines the process by which local health officers are appointed. The Board of Selectmen in a town recommends an individual for appointment to the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS). The Commissioner then appoints the health officer based on that recommendation. The Commissioner has the sole legal authority to appoint town health officers. Identification cards, certificates and letters of appointment are issued by the DPHS. If there are any questions about a term of office, please contact the DPHS Health Officer Liaison. According to State of New Hampshire law, a recommendation must be submitted to the Commissioner within 15 days of notification by the Department. If a recommendation is not made, then the Commissioner may appoint a health officer.

Term of Office (RSA 128:4)

The town health officer shall hold office for 3 years or until a successor is appointed. An individual currently serving as health officer can be reappointed, and there is no legal limit on the number of times a health officer may be reappointed.

Health Officers for Several Towns (RSA 128:6)

An individual can serve as the health officer of more than one town. This individual would be recommended by the Board of Selectmen of each town and appointed by the Commissioner as the health officer in each town.

Deputy Health Officers (RSA 128:6a) and Assistants (RSA 147:5)

Health officers have the authority to appoint a deputy health officer. The appointment of a deputy health officer, under RSA 128:6a, is subject to the approval of the Board of Selectmen and the Commissioner of the DHHS. Health officers also have the legal authority to employ assistants as necessary to carry out their responsibilities under RSA 147:5. Deputy health officers are empowered to enforce public health laws and make sanitary investigations as directed by the health officer or requested by the Commissioner or their designee.

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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
129 Pleasant Street | Concord, NH | 03301-3852

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