Missouri Turning Point Implements Voluntary Accreditation

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Field of Work: Strengthening the public health system.

Problem Synopsis: According to an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Public Health, by 1988, the nation had lost sight of its public health goals, and allowed public health to fall into disarray. The report noted that America's public health system was expected to do too much with too few resources. It also stated that capabilities for effective public health actions were inadequate, and the health of the public was "unnecessarily threatened as a result."

Local public health departments in Missouri varied in the level of services they provided and how well they performed the core functions and essential services of public health.

Synopsis of the Work: Turning Point: Collaborating for a New Century in Public Health, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, defined its mission as to "transform and strengthen the public health system in the United States to make the system more effective, more community-based and more collaborative." The two foundations partnered to support 22 states and 41 local communities in those states. RWJF also supported five National Excellence Collaboratives that allowed states to work together on important public health infrastructure challenges.

Representatives of Missouri Turning Point became aware of the importance of measuring and managing public health performance, and decided to establish a voluntary accreditation program for its local public health departments.

Key Results: To ensure that accreditation was independent, the state established the Missouri Institute for Community Health, a not-for-profit corporation governed by a board of directors representing health care providers, academia, human service organizations and state and local government as the accrediting body.

Missouri's Voluntary Accreditation Program for Local Public Health Agencies was launched in 2003. The first local public health agency was accredited the same year. The program lays out standards for agency infrastructure and for agency performance.

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