The Minot City Health Department was established by City Ordinance #23 in 1892. This was a time when communicable disease patients were served by the Detention Hospital.


In April 1941, at the Minot City Board of Health meeting, a resolution was passed agreeing to establish a joint Health Department with Ward County. This unit was organized April 1, 1942, and called the Ward-Minot Health Unit.


In 1943, the North Dakota Legislature passed a law enabling two or more counties adjoining each other to combine and pool their resources to form a full time health district. In that year, Burke and Ward Counties combined to form the Burke-Ward Health District.


During 1943:


  • Two full time public health nurses served Minot’s 16,577 people
  • The health officer inspected all children returning to school after an infectious disease and issued permits for school attendance.
  • Patch tests for TB indicated that 51 out of 593 students had been exposed to tuberculosis.
  • Sanitarians enforced newly adopted food service ordinances and investigated a food poisoning outbreak at the State Teachers College.


The name “First District Health Unit” was adopted in 1945 after being joined by McLean County in 1944 and Renville County in 1945. It was the first multi-county health district in the state. The First District Health Unit (FDHU) expanded in 1948 to include Bottineau County, McHenry County in 1950, and Sheridan County in 1955.


During the 50’s much time was spent in school health and sanitation. The Health Officer and Nursing Division were active in giving physical exams and shots. The sanitarians were trying to eliminate poor water supplies, introduce paper cups and improve plumbing and sewage conditions.


Important steps in the control of communicable diseases were taken in May 1955 when the first polio vaccine was made available through the Health Unit and in 1967 when the measles vaccine became available.


During the years of 1977 – 1979, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) offices were established in each of the seven counties served by FDHU.


The year 1971 will be remembered as the year the FDHU office in Minot obtained a new home. A Hill-Burton grant and mill levy contributions from all seven counties comprising the Health Unit made the new building possible. Renovation and a new addition were completed in 1995 with the help of some carryover funds and a building loan.


Today, FDHU has at least one office in each county. Over sixty staff provide a variety of public health services such as preventative health care, environmental health protection, nutrition counseling, and health promotion and safety education programs


FDHU Governance and Funding



First District Health Unit is governed by the FDHU Board of Health. By statute, each county that is a member of First District Health Unit appoints members to the board. Each county served by First District Health Unit has at least one member on the Board of Health. The Board of Health holds quarterly meetings which are open to anyone who would like to attend.




First District Health Unit is funded primarily by county, state, and federal dollars. Additional revenue is received through consumer fees, donations, and contracts. The Board of Health prepares a budget for each fiscal year and submits that budget to each board of county commissioners for approval. A public hearing is held in every county comprising the district prior to a meeting of the Joint Board of County Commissioners. Action taken by the Joint Board of County Commissioners reflects the record of each county and the budget is then final.


Federal dollars are received through the process of contracting for programs.


Fees for medical services and licensing are established by the Board of Health. Programs such as WIC and Family Planning have income guidelines determined by the Federal Government. Fee scales and income qualification guidelines are available at any FDHU office.


First District Health Unit has contracts with public and private organizations to perform certain services such as consultation and medical services. The contracts are reviewed and renewed on an annual basis.


Community Assessment


First District periodically assesses the health of the community, including factors that influence and contribute to health.  The most recent is the 2015 Community Health Assessment.

Core Functions

Public Health:

  • Prevents epidemics and the spread of disease
  • Protects against environmental hazards
  • Promotes and encourages health behaviors and injury prevention
  • Responds to disasters and assists communities in recovery
  • Assures the quality and accessibility of health services




The regular collection, analysis, and sharing of information about health conditions, risks, and resources in a community. Assessment identifies trends in illness, injury and death and the factors which may cause these events.


Policy Development


Information gathered from assessment activities is used to develop local and state health policies. This process includes information sharing, citizen participation, compromise, and consensus. Policy development includes consideration of political, organizational and community values and foster shared ownership of policy decisions.




Assurance means making sure that needed health services are available. Assurance focuses on maintaining the capacity of public health agencies to manage day-to-day operations and provide the core public health functions. This function also requires monitoring the quality of health services provided in both public and private sectors.