By Pramod Dwivedi / Guest Editorial
Linn County Public Health (LCPH) recently became the first health department in Iowa to achieve national accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), a nonprofit organization formed in 2007 to oversee national health department accreditation efforts. This is a significant achievement for our region, considering that while many of the more than 3,000 governmental public health departments across the nation are working toward accreditation, only 67 – including LCPH – have been awarded it.
To receive PHAB accreditation, we voluntarily underwent a rigorous, multi-faceted, peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure we met or exceeded a set of nationally recognized, practice-focused and evidenced-based standards.
The goal of the program is to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of public health departments. The program, jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards against which the nation’s governmental public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. These standards are driven by 10 essential public health services, as well as the components of management, administration and governance.
As the first health department in Iowa to achieve accreditation, we have become a leader in the state. Accreditation means that LCPH is dedicated to improving and protecting the health of Linn County by providing the highest quality public health services. For example, we have seen improvements within quality improvement, workforce development and performance management. We have also enhanced our customer satisfaction efforts and better aligned various plans that our department has.
Here at LCPH, we have a number of programs that include environmental public health, health education and promotion, chronic and communicable disease prevention, immunization, laboratory services and public health emergency preparedness. All these programs and services serve to protect Linn County residents from health hazards and promote their health, and we work with a variety of community partners in order to achieve those goals.
It should be noted that LCPH faces increasing challenges from epidemics and disaster preparedness, making it more important than ever to have systems in place to ensure public health’s effectiveness.
The spread of accreditation should result in the improved health of the public, through higher quality and increased performance by public health departments, and a general strengthening of public health infrastructure. Just as many hospitals and other organizations are accredited to show they meet or exceed certain standards, PHAB’s accreditation allows public health departments to demonstrate that the services they provide are high-quality and effective. We are proud to be among a select few departments in the country to have achieved this accomplishment and look forward to becoming a part of a wide network of accredited health departments and improved public health.
To learn more about LCPH, visit our website at http://www.linncounty.org/health, call us at (319) 892-6000 or email email@example.com.
Pramod Dwivedi is health director of Linn County Public Health and board member with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).