Embracing foundational values

Published 9:38 am Thursday, March 15, 2018

By Evan Cook


Five years ago, the Jessamine County Health Department began their tedious journey towards accreditation with their community health assessment in 2013. 

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Accreditation means meeting the nationally recognized set of guild lines for their department. Aside from being graded, the JCHD had to submit hundreds of required documents before they could become accredited. JCHD received accredited status in March 2017 after the committee’s initial review and site visit report. Though being a four-year process, it was considered well worth the wait.

“Accreditation was on my radar when I joined JCHD in August 2012,” said Randy Gooch, the Jessamine public health director. “Because I knew the value it would bring our organization while navigating difficult budget challenges as we were then and prepare to again in the next biennium. So I couldn’t be more proud of our team for this accomplishment and thankful to our board of health for their support in our achievements.”

Jonathan Vorbeck, accreditation and communication manager of the JCHD, said Health Departments seeking accreditation are assigned three trained sire visitors from other states that assess and grade documentation for conformity to standards and measures.

“Conformity is either ‘fully demonstrated, largely demonstrated, slightly demonstrated, or not demonstrated,’” Vorbeck said. “The site visitors write up a ‘site visit report’ that includes our scores for all 100 measures.

This report goes to the Public Health Accreditation Committee and they decide if we become accredited or receive an action plan. Site visitors can note ‘areas of excellence’ or ‘opportunities for improvement’ with each measure. JCHD had several ‘areas of excellence’ comments which serves as a good indicator that we exceeded the requirements of several measures.”

Vorbeck said the JCHD submitted over 340 pieces of required documentation for 100 measures.      

“Some of the required documents we had and some we did not,” Vorbeck said. “Therefore, we had to implement processes in order to have these required documents and incorporating these processes were typically in addition to our regular — mandated — job duties; but they were evidence-based best practices we needed to implement as a local health department.”

Vorbeck said as an accredited health department, JCHD is able to share lessons learned with other health departments who may be going through the same process. A fact which he says the PHAB encourages between department.

“Often times, other health departments reach out to us for help and assistance in interpreting measures and reviewing documentation,” Vorbeck said. “We are viewed as an ‘accreditation resource’ by our peers and have even presented at national conferences.”

With the accreditation process completed, Vorbeck said the JCHD will have to submit annual reports until reaccreditation in 2022.

“The annual report contains sections on performance management, quality improvement, community health assessment, improvement plan, strategic plan and innovation in Public Health,” Vorbeck said. “We must describe how we are continuing to implement these processes post accreditation status.”

Vorbeck said the department will be continually working on improving their department, as well as working on projects and tasks to better improve their evaluation status.

“We are very happy to celebrate our one year anniversary as a Nationally Accredited Health Department,” Gooch said. “Our team continues to embrace the foundational values of accreditation which is demonstrated by our work in community engagement, performance management and continuous quality improvement to improve the efficiency of our operations and the health of our community.”