In 2019, the Vanderburgh County Health Department became the 3rd out of 93 health departments in Indiana to receive accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).
What is PHAB Accreditation?
Accreditation is a lengthy process. The PHAB website lists seven steps necessary to becoming an accredited institution:
During this step, we assessed if we as an organization were prepared to apply for accreditation. This included compiling a list of our strengths, as well as a list of places for improvement. It is important to us that we always strive to make our organization even better.
Application to the PHAB indicated that the Vanderburgh Health Department was officially prepared to commit to the accreditation process and to uphold and produce only the highest standards of care.
During this process, the Vanderburgh Health Department submitted documentation that demonstrated their commitment to the PHAB’s standards. This included information on our pre-to-3 program, Vanderburgh County’s improvement in immunization rates, and our annual reports.
After all of the documentation has been submitted, the PHAB then sends a representative to visit. This representative then draws up a report that states:
- How conformity with each PHAB measure was demonstrated
- Areas of excellence or unique/promising practices
- Opportunities for improvement
Once all of the previous information has been acquired, the PHAB then reviews it and makes its decision. It can either determine that the health department has reached a level of care and performance that warrants accreditation for five years (we did it!) or it can determine that more work is needed before accreditation is given.
Thankfully, after years of hard work, the Vanderburgh County Health Department received the honor of becoming an accredited organization!
From this point forward, the VCHD is required to submit annual reports to the PHAB in order to ensure that they are maintaining their commitment to the highest standards of health and community performance.
After five years, the process begins anew. The Vanderburgh County Health Department will once again apply for accreditation!
Why Become Accredited?
There are several reasons why a Health Department would want to become accredited, including:
What is the Public Health Accreditation Board?
The PHAB and its accreditation process are a relatively new addition to the world of public health. About 20 years ago, back in 2003, the Institute of Medicine report titled The Future of Public Health called for the establishment of a national Steering Committee to examine the benefits of accrediting governmental public health departments. One year later, the CDC noted that the accreditation of Public Health Departments could become part of a key strategy to strengthening public health infrastructure.
This lead to the establishment of the Exploring Accreditation project in 2005, which explored the feasibility of such an endeavor. It was determined that the optimal organization would one that:
- Promoted high performance and continuous quality improvement
- Recognized high performers that met nationally expected standards of quality and improvement
- Illustrated health department accountability to the public and policymakers
- Increased the visibility and public awareness of governmental public health, leading to greater public trust and increased health department credibility, and ultimately a stronger for public health funding and infrastructure
- Clarified the public’s expectations of health departments
With all that in mind, the PHAB was established in 2007, with much work ahead of it. The next four years saw the PHAB working through multiple versions of the accreditation process, ultimately running a final beta test with 30 Health Departments across the nation from 2009 – 2010. From here, the project’s Assessment Process Workgroup and Standards Development Workgroup came together one last time in order to revise and finalize the accreditation process. With the approval of the PHAB Board of Directors, Version 1.0 of the PHAB Accreditation Standards and Measure and the Guide to National Public Health Department Accreditation were released to the public in July 2011.
National public health department accreditation launched on September 14, 2011.