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On the Road to National Accreditation

Cecil County Health Department is on an accreditation journey. Follow us on our path toward excellence in public health as we demonstrate accountability, transparency, and a commitment to long-term quality improvement.

What is public health department accreditation?

Many public service entities (e.g., schools, police departments) are accredited. Until recently there was no national accreditation program for health departments. In September 2011 the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), a nonprofit organization, launched its voluntary national accreditation program. The goal of this program is to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of Tribal, state, local and territorial public health departments. To obtain accreditation a health department must demonstrate its performance against a set of nationally recognized, practice-focused and evidenced-based standards.

What are the benefits of accreditation?

Accreditation is all about performance and quality improvement. Going through accreditation will help us to identify strengths and areas for improvement, strengthen internal and external partnerships, and act as a stimulus for continuous quality improvement and performance management. Accreditation also provides us with the opportunity to show that we are doing a good job. It will help us to demonstrate our accountability to, and increase our credibility among our stakeholders, partners, and the community.

Accreditation Timeline

On March 7, 2014 Cecil County Health Department issued its Statement of Intent to apply for accreditation. This is the first step in our journey towards accreditation. We will provide updates as we progress on our journey.

On July 17, 2014 Dan Coulter gave a presentation on national public health department accreditation to Cecil County’s Community Health Advisory Committee (CHAC). This presentation provides an overview of national public health department accreditation, the benefits of accreditation, and a tentative timeline for accreditation at Cecil County Health Department.

On August 7, 2014 Cecil County Health Department submitted its application to PHAB. This application serves as a formal notification to PHAB of the health department’s commitment to initiate the accreditation process. The application consisted of 3 prerequisite documents; the Community Health Needs Assessment, the Local Health Improvement Plan, and our Department Strategic Plan. A letter of support from the county executive and council president and our organizational chart were also submitted. The application was accepted by PHAB on August 15, 2014.

August 2014 – February 2016: Cecil County Health Department staff conduct a thorough review to ensure that our work meets national accreditation standards.

February 9, 2016: Cecil County Health Department submitted its documentation to PHAB.

October 19-20, 2016: A team of peer reviewers from PHAB completed a site visit to Cecil County Health Department and interviewed staff along with representatives of partner organizations, local government and state officials. The reviewers provided some initial feedback on the Health Department’s strengths and areas for improvement and will develop a report for PHAB to review. The Health Department will receive a copy of the report in the coming weeks and a decision on its accreditation status within the next few months.

March 14, 2017: Cecil County Health Department was accredited for five years by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). This milestone accomplishment is official recognition that our health department meets or exceeds national standards for high quality public health services, leadership, and accountability. The accreditation process helps to ensure that the programs and services we provide are responsive to the needs of our community. Achieving accreditation signifies our commitment to continuous quality improvement so that we can meet our community’s needs as effectively as possible. PHAB accreditation demonstrates our accountability and credibility to everyone with whom we work.

It was a long, but worthwhile journey to become accredited as a public health department. Going through the process helped us to identify our strengths and weaknesses; establish department-wide performance management and quality improvement processes; improve communication and collaboration with the public, our public health system partners, and our government; and ensure that we have the capacity to deliver the 10 Essential Public Health Services. While this stage of the accreditation journey is complete, Cecil County Health Department remains committed to continuous quality improvement to meet the needs of Cecil County residents.

For more information please contact:

Dan Coulter, Accreditation Coordinator
443-245-3767