About the Local Health Officer

The mission of our Public Health Department is to prevent disease, promote and support optimal health and wellness, and protect the community against disasters. Each county in California is mandated to “take measures as may be necessary to preserve and protect the public health,” and the health officer is a key part of this duty. California law requires each county to appoint a health officer, who must be a physician.  

The health officer role is unique and challenging. California law gives local health officers numerous distinct duties and grants them broad authority to take action to prevent disease. This includes, but is not limited to, the authority to issue orders, including orders for isolation and quarantine. The health officer may declare a local emergency when necessary. As a physician, the health officer will serve as a liaison between state officials, local elected officials, and our community on issues concerning public health. The local health officer is a leader and active participant in efforts to develop regional public health capacities with an increasing emphasis on public health emergency preparedness. 

The health officer is also the local registrar of births and deaths.

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors appointed Dr. Sherilynn Cooke to serve as Nevada County's Health Officer beginning January 1, 2022. Dr. Cooke earned an MD from Stanford University and a Masters of Public Health from UCLA. She specializes in Internal Medicine and has worked in Public Health and Primary Care Medicine. Dr. Cooke reports to the Public Health Director. 

Authority and Responsibility of Local Health Officers

Organizational Chart of Nevada County Public Health's Programs and Services(PDF).