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Florida Department of Health in Manatee County was authorized by the Manatee County Commission in 1921 having a health officer, a nurse and a clerk. The administrative office was on the 2nd floor of the courthouse and the clinic was in the basement. In 1947, the Health Department became affiliated with the Florida State Board of Health. Until that year, local physicians served as the public health officer. Dr. William L. Wright became the first full-time health officer, however, initially his time was shared with Sarasota. With the increase in staff and services, additional space was needed.

Dr. James B. Anderson, a retired Army Colonel, is credited for securing the most community support to build a new health center. A center, located at 202 6th Avenue East, Bradenton, was completed in August 1955, consisting of 4,400 square feet and staffed with 14 people. Additional space was added to this building in 1966 allowing for a total of 8,400 square feet and a staff of 37. In June 1980, Manatee County Commissioners gave the Health Department another building at 216 6th Avenue East, which was vacated by the Welfare Department.

Growth and demand for service continued. In October 1988, a $3 million public health center opened, having 32,000 square feet, housing 100 staff, and named for John Ambrusko, M.D., the director of the center. The 202 6th Avenue East building was remodeled and housed the environmental health services staff. In 1992, the 216 6th Avenue East building was renovated and the environmental health staff became the new occupants, returning the 202 6th Avenue East building to Manatee County.

Directors of the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County are as follows:

  • William L. Wright, M.D., 1947-1952

  • John S. Neill, M.D., 1952-1958

  • Fredrick K. Allen, M.D., 1959-1963

  • George Dame, M.D., 1963-1970

  • Sam T. Simpson, M.D., 1971-1976

  • John Ambrusko, M.D., 1977-1989

  • Gladys Branic, M.D., M.P.H., D.S.W. 1989-2009

  • Jennifer Bencie,  M.D., M.S.A - 2010- Present



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Florida Department of Health in Manatee County

410 6th Avenue East
Bradenton, FL 34208
(941) 748-0747


Florida Department of Health in Manatee County - Copyright 2012