San Francisco Department of Public Health

The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), previously called the San Francisco Health Department, is composed of various subdivisions that work together to serve the city of San Francisco.

San Francisco Department of Public Health
Agency overview
JurisdictionCity and County of San Francisco
Headquarters101 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
EmployeesAbout 8,000
Annual budget$2.1 billion[1]
Agency executive
  • Grant Colfax, Director of Public Health


San Francisco Department of Public Health's mission is to protect and promote the health of all San Francisco citizens. It achieves this via its two main divisions: the San Francisco Health Network and Population Health.[2]


In 1899, there was an outbreak of bubonic plague in San Francisco's Chinatown, . During this time, it was discovered that there had been cases of the plague in Hong Kong, China. Chinese people were forbidden from entering the U.S. and fear affected citizens of San Francisco. The San Francisco Health Department closed Chinese businesses and subsequently burned parts of Chinatown. The inhabitants of Chinatown were required to receive vaccinations if they planned on emigrating from the city. A citizen, Wong Wai, sued the department; the ruling was in favor of Wai and requested that the department terminate their behavior. Health officials dissatisfied with the ruling ostracized and isolated Chinatown and all its inhabitants, because of their suspicions of the plague spreading.[3]

The plague scare raised awareness for public health intervention.[4]:88 San Francisco's health officials, who consisted of San Francisco Mayor Eugene Schmitz, California Governor George Pardee, and his personal health officials, created a partnership between themselves and the sanitary campaign in Chinatown.[4]:244–249 Through this partnership, health boards all around the state would be notified if the causes of death were suspicious or had suspicion of the plague. This was in efforts to address and better serve the public's interests in health and sanitation during the time of the plague. In addition, any obtained tissues from suspicious causes of death would directly be sent to the Public Health Service Laboratory in San Francisco to help identify and eradicate the infection.[4]:244–249


San Francisco Department of Public Health
SF General
Laguna Honda
Curry Senior & Tom Waddell
Maxine Hall
Ocean Park
Potrero Hill (Caleb King)
Silver Avenue

Population Health Division

Population Health Division(PHD) covers a broad spectrum of topics.

San Francisco Health Network

The San Francisco Health Network consists of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Laguna Honda Hospital and many other clinics throughout San Francisco. The network has vocalized their non-discriminatory approach and mission to serve all who are in need of health services.[5] The San Francisco Health Network has stated they will serve irrespective of immigration status or the lack of health insurance.[6] The network aims to implement and increase innovative strategies.

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital

ZSFGH is the only level one trauma center in San Francisco.

Public Sanitation

In fulfilling the San Francisco Department of Public Health's mission to promote the health of its citizens, part of that effort focuses on upholding public sanitation standards of sidewalks, streets, parks, playgrounds, and public spaces and facilities throughout its 13 districts. A huge amount of the department's efforts to keep the streets clean focuses primarily on the removal of needles, syringes, human and animal waste, and miscellaneous litter.

Since 2013, SFPDH's has made additional efforts to improve litter and needle disposal through its coordination and funding of several collaborative and community-based programs:

  • As of September 12, 2018, there are currently sixteen 24 hour syringe disposal sites located within San Francisco, 7 of which are kiosks and the other 9 being small disposal boxes. In collaboration with the SF AIDS Foundation, SFDPH funds a 10-member clean up team that operates 12 hours a day, 7 days a week to pick up used syringes and needles off the streets, in addition to collaborating with Homeless Youth Alliance, St. James Infirmary, San Francisco Drug User's Union, and Glide Harm Reduction Services in an effort to maximize its proper needle cleanup services.[7]

In addition to the work done by SFDPH, San Francisco Public Works[8] also provides maintenance for the streets and groundwork of San Francisco. Through a number of programs, the organization works to fulfill their mission statement of serving those that reside, work, and visit San Francisco:

  • Provision of different street cleaning services,[9] specialized by district and by street direction. San Francisco bi-weekly street cleaning schedule is available at San Francisco Public Works website.[10]
  • Beginning 2014, SF Public Works placed a number of Pit Stops in various impacted locations around San Francisco. Pit Stops provide access to universal toilets, needle disposal, and dog waste stations. Currently, there are 24 pit stops available in 12 neighborhoods throughout the city. All the pit stops are staffed by paid workers to ensure their cleanliness throughout the day.[11]
  • 311 service is available for the residents or the visitors of San Francisco to report illegal dumping on the street or sidewalk, graffiti vandalism, fallen trees, human waste, or potholes on the streets. This service can be accessed via calling 311, mobile app 311, or visiting sf311 online. The city officials respond within 48 hours or devise a plan if a request requires more time.[12]

Community Health Equity & Promotion (CHEP)

This branch of SFDPH is part of the Quality Improvement branch that hosts multiple programs and initiatives to promote active-living, healthy eating, and decreasing the spread of STIs, such as HIV. Many of these quality improvement projects are on-going and long-term studies that achieve success through results-based accountability.[13]


  1. "Department of Public Health FY 17-19 Budget" (PDF). Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  2. About the DPH, Mission of DPH.
  3. Chang, Iris (2003). The Chinese in America: A Narrative History. Penguin Group. pp. 139–140. ISBN 978-1-101-12687-5.
  4. Risse, Guenter (2012). Plague, fear, and politics in San Francisco's Chinatown. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 9781421405100.
  5. "San Francisco Health Network". San Francisco Health Network. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  6. "SFDPH Annual Report 2015-2016" (PDF).
  7. "Syringe Access and Disposal Programs in SF". Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  8. "District Maps". San Francisco Moderates. 2010-04-27. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  9. "San Francisco Property Information Map". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  10. "Mechanical Street Sweeping and Street Cleaning Schedule | Public Works". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  11. "Pit Stop Program". pitstop. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  12. "Report a Problem | Public Works". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  13. "Department of Public Health: Community Health Equity & Promotion". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
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