About the Department of Health & Senior Services

Vision

Healthy Missourians for life.

Mission

To be the leader in promoting, protecting and partnering for health.

Values

Accountability

We accept responsibility for how we plan and perform our work, and we recognize the critical importance of using state resources wisely as stewards of the public trust.

Collaboration

We partner with public and private entities to improve health for all Missourians and protect seniors and persons with disabilities.

Commitment

We maintain a workforce composed of highly skilled and motivated individuals, and we celebrate the enormously positive difference they make in the lives of Missourians every day.

Communication

We remain closely connected to the citizens we serve through responsive and timely communication, and we deeply value our role as a trusted source of information regarding health and senior issues. 

Diversity

We recognize and respect the benefits of diversity among staff and those we serve, and we work to make our department a reflection of the richly diverse community that is the state of Missouri. 

Excellence

We strive to deliver high quality services through continuous quality improvement efforts in order to exceed customer expectations.   

Integrity

We perform our job responsibilities in a highly principled manner by honoring our commitments, maintaining our ethics, and always putting the public good above personal gain.

Respect

We deliver services to Missourians in a manner that is sensitive to their unique needs and circumstances.

A Continuing Tradition...

In 1883 the citizens of Missouri realized that the state could not prosper if the health of its residents was not protected. Epidemics of smallpox, typhoid and cholera severely threatened the health and welfare of Missourians. Concerned physicians led a citizens’ campaign to establish a state agency responsible for the promotion of the people’s health and the prevention of disease. On March 29, 1883, the Missouri Legislature responded by creating a State Board of Health.

The steady increase in the population and the extended life expectancy of Missourians show that the first State Board of Health successfully fulfilled its mandate to build an effective state public health agency.
When state government was reorganized in 1945, the Board of Health was superseded by the Division of Health of the Department of Public Health and Welfare. In October 1967 the Legislature again created a State Board of Health but within the framework of the Division of Health. Members of the Board of Health are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.

State government reorganization in 1974 placed the Division of Health in the Department of Social Services. At that time, the division’s environmental engineering and solid waste programs were transferred to the Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Crippled Children’s Service became a part of the Division of Health. After the 83rd General Assembly passed Senate Bill 25 and Governor John Ashcroft signed the legislation on July 29, 1985, the Department of Health (DOH) was created. That September, the department was officially empowered, charged with supervising and managing all public health functions and programs formerly administered by the Division of Health.

Executive Order 01-02, signed on Jan. 5, 2001, by Governor Roger Wilson, transferred the Division of Aging to the Department of Health effective Aug. 28, 2001, to become the Department of Health and Senior Services. Combining senior and public health issues into one system has allowed the department to more effectively focus on prevention and quality of life for all Missourians.