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Public Health Accreditation

The Health Department was one of the first in the nation to be accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board. Read the news release. Below are some questions and answers about the process and what accreditation means.

What does it mean for a health department to be accredited?Public Health Accreditation Board seal
What was involved in the process? How long did it take?
What does accreditation measure?
How many other health departments are accredited? Who?
What’s the next step?
How will the citizens of Northern Kentucky benefit from having an accredited health department?
How will the Health Department benefit from being accredited?
Who administers the national public health accreditation program?

What does it mean for a health department to be accredited?
It means that the Northern Kentucky Health Department stands out among the best in the nation. People expect their hospitals and schools to be accredited. Now their public health department is also accredited. Accreditation means that the Northern Kentucky Health Department has met national standards for high quality public health services, leadership and accountability.

With accreditation, we are able to show the community that our health department is a top performer and that we are meeting the public health needs of those we serve as effectively as possible. Accredited health departments must also demonstrate that they assure the delivery of the 10 Essential Public Health Services, established by the Core Public Health Functions Steering Committee in 1994. For a list of the 10 essential services, visit http://www.cdc.gov/nphpsp/essentialservices.html
 
With accreditation, we are demonstrating increased accountability and credibility to everyone — the public, funders, elected officials and partner organizations with which we work.

This is the first time that there's been a national system for public health accreditation; however, some states have had accreditation systems previously.

What was involved in the process? How long did it take?
Accreditation was a rigorous process that took years of preparation, and efforts of many Health Department staff. Twenty-three staff served directly on the accreditation team, but all staff contributed to the effort.

The Health Department informally began investigating accreditation in 2006 after the Exploring Accreditation report was published by a committee of public health experts. Over the next six years, the Health Department staff became engaged as the accreditation standards and processes were developed. It began formally in October 2011, when the Health Department submitted its letter of intent to apply.

We underwent a thorough review that included submission of more than 600 documents in 12 areas (or domains) and a site visit by public health peers who assessed our performance against standards.  

What does accreditation measure?
The process looked at our programs, policies, procedures, tasks and day-to-day operations, including how we work with governing agencies, who oversees how we spend our money and how we engage the public.

A culture of quality improvement is central to the accreditation process, and the site visit report will set priorities for quality improvement moving forward.

How many other health departments are accredited? Who?
Eleven health departments were in the initial cohort of applicants to achieve accreditation. As of June 2017, more than 175 health departments have been accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, including 12 in Kentucky.

What’s the next step?
Accreditation lasts for five years. During that period, health departments must regularly report on quality improvement activities and share any substantial changes that might jeopardize the organization’s ability to continue to meet the standards set by PHAB.

How will the citizens of Northern Kentucky benefit from having an accredited health department?

 How does the Health Department benefit from being accredited?

Who administers the national public health accreditation program?
The program is managed by the Public Health Accreditation Board, which is a nonprofit organization that was created specifically to develop, implement, and manage the national program. PHAB is jointly funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The national accreditation program was developed over a decade-long process with input from thousands of public health professionals, public health researchers, academics, and other technical experts.