Healthy People in a Healthy Environment

Press Release: Health Department Actively Pursues National Public Health Accreditation During National Public Health Week

Bel Air, MD – March 29, 2013 – National Public Health Week, April 1-7, draws attention to initiatives aimed at addressing public health threats and improving the health of citizens. Each April since 1995, communities across the country have celebrated this observance the first week of April by highlighting public health achievements and cultivating interest in issues of vital importance to public health. The theme of this year’s National Public Health Week is “Public Health is ROI (Return on Investment): Save Lives, Save Money.”

To this end, the Harford County Health Department is actively engaged in pursuing national public health accreditation, an opportunity only recently made available and a process that can take up to two years to accomplish. Harford County Health Officer Susan Kelly, states, “By becoming accredited, our local health department continues the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health in communities by analyzing data, implementing informational and educational programs, developing policies, administering and delivering services, and enforcing regulations.  This can only be accomplished through the collective efforts and informed choices of society, public and private organizations, communities and individuals.”

The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) defines accreditation as the development of a set of standards, a process to measure health department performance against those standards, and as a means to reward and recognize health departments that meet these standards.  Accreditation through PHAB provides a means for the Health Department to identify performance enhancement opportunities, to improve management, develop leadership, and revitalize relationships with community partners and shareholders.

Only 11 of the more than 1,200 public health departments in the country have currently achieved accreditation status. The Harford County Health Department is using National Public Health Week to reinforce to county residents that, by working hard to join that elite group in 2014, it is aggressively engaged in activities designed to make Harford the healthiest county in the state.

Ms. Kelly adds, “For public health departments, accreditation translates to demonstrated accountability and better quality.  National public health accreditation means that people across the country can expect the same high quality of public health services no matter where they live.  This is especially important during this era of federal health care reform that will likely impact the roles that health care and public health providers will have.  The expectation is that accreditation will strengthen local health departments and the services they provide, which will ultimately contribute to improved health outcomes in our community.”

Throughout National Public Health Week, county health departments across Maryland are conducting awareness activities.  The Harford County Health Department will be offering employees opportunities to participate in seminars on a variety health related topics, including the accreditation process, CPR training and stress management.  In addition, throughout the month of April, the Health Department’s Public Health Matters video segment on the topic of rabies will air on Harford Cable Network on Mondays at 10:30AM and Tuesdays at 7:30PM.

For more information about National Public Health Week, visit www.nphw.org. or visit the Harford County Health Department website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com

Click here for a short slide show on Accreditation