First National Accreditation Program for Public Health Departments Launched Today

Sep 14, 2011, 4:21 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth


Today the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) launched the first national accreditation program for local, tribal and state public health departments with a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The goal of the accreditation program, which was initiated and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is to protect and improve Americans’ health by advancing the quality and performance of all of the nation’s public health departments.

“PHAB’s vision for accreditation is to create a reliable national standard for public health,” said Kaye Bender, R.N. , Ph.D, FAAN, President and CEO of PHAB. “PHAB supports health departments in achieving this standard by recognizing the important work they do and by providing support to improve their services.”

National public health accreditation, says Bender, will provide consistent standards so that people in different states and towns have access to the same range and quality of services. Watch an interview with Kaye Bender on the launch of national public health department accreditation:

“With shrinking budgets and a growing number of health challenges to address, there has never been a more important time for public health departments to focus on the best and most efficient ways to keep people healthy,” said James Marks, M.D., MPH, Senior Vice President and Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Group. “We believe that accreditation can ensure a strong, transparent public health system and therefore a healthy nation." Watch an interview with James S. Marks on the importance of national public health accreditation to communities:

James Marks, Kaye Bender and Judith Monroe, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., Director of the Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support at CDC were among the presenters at the accreditation launch to be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., today. Other speakers included health department officers who have already completed many of the steps needed to apply for public health accreditation within the next few months. Their comments include:

  • “We are going to use our accreditation credential to show our community that we’re worthy,” said Torney Smith, M.S., Administrator, Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane, Washington.
  • "We strive to have a healthy and happy Cherokee nation and a major component of that is advancing the quality and performance of our public health activities," said JT Petherick, J.D., M.B.H., Health Legislative Officer, Cherokee Nation Health Services, Tahlequah, OK.
  • "Accreditation is an important tool to use to help build across jurisdictions. Success of public health will be if we use the [accreditation] process to drive performance improvement and along with that are transparent and accountable to others. The potential for future impact from public health accreditation is tremendous," said Paul Jarris, M.D., Executive Director, Association of State and Territorial Health Officers.
  • “It’s my hope accreditation will never become an end in itself and that we all will improve the process over time… because the circumstances of protecting us and keeping us safe change over time,” said Bobby Pestronk, M.P.H, Executive Director, National Association of County and City Health Officials. “And I hope accreditation will help others in the community recognize the importance of health departments.”

Watch a Public Health in Action video showcasing health departments working toward health department accreditation:

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.