Just as universities and hospitals can be accredited by national oversight organizations, so too can public health departments. The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) confers accreditation as a recognition of effectiveness, accountability, continuous quality improvement and capacity to deliver essential public health services.
Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW) began the journey to accreditation in 2014. The process took two years and involved twelve teams submitting 369 documents as well as reviewing the policies and procedures of the entire department. In May of 2016 LMPHW hosted a site visit by PHAB and in August of 2016 received a five-year accreditation.
Why Get Accredited?
- Accreditation strengthens quality improvement
- Accreditation strengthens partnerships
- Accreditation strengthens accountability
- Accreditation strengthens resources
- Accreditation strengthens the workforce
Our Journey to Accreditation
LMPHW began laying the groundwork for accreditation in 2011. In 2012, LMPHW conducted a Community Health Needs Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan, called Healthy Louisville 2020. For the next two years, LMPHW prepared for accreditation by engaging in strategic planning, preparedness planning and increasing accountability. In June 2014, LMPHW hired an Accreditation Coordinator, Briana Lyddane, who helped staff all throughout LMPHW collect, create and submit documentation. There were meetings, presentations, practice interviews and even trivia to get staff up to speed. On the day the final application was completed in November 2015, there was a document submission party.
As part of the application process, PHAB conducted a site visit in May 2016. Staff prepared for the visit by hosting a mock site visit and improving documentation based on staff feedback. They conducted a second round of editing based on feedback from PHAB itself and conducted practice interviews with staff. The day of the site visit, Angela sustained an ankle injury at Cross Fit, but she persisted and hobbled around with the PHAB delegation all day. The efforts of Briana, Angela and the entire LMPHW staff were rewarded in August 2016 when LMPHW was accredited.
In order to maintain accreditation, LMPHW must continue to meet the high standards set forth by PHAB and complete an annual accreditation report that’s due every September. Continuous quality improvement is part of the culture and has informed an updated strategic plan, a new Community Health Needs Assessment and a new Community Health Improvement Plan (this time called Healthy Louisville 2025). Because of accreditation standards around community involvement, Healthy Louisville 2025 was more representative and inclusionary for those residents who tend to be underrepresented or left out altogether. The plan was offered in many more languages and modes than in the past and included focus group qualitative research for the first time. The kick-off event included about 100 representatives from community organizations who helped prioritize and develop each focus area. This type of collaboration can now be seen throughout the department.