Reaping the Transformational Benefits of Accreditation at Camden County Health Department
By Paschal Nwako, PhD, MPH, CHES; and Caryelle Lasher, MPH
One of our greatest gains from the accreditation process was the strides we made in improving internal and external accountability through developing and aligning our Quality Improvement, Performance Management, and Workforce Development Plans. Before accreditation, we had fragmented, and often incomplete quality improvement initiatives. Using the Standards and Measures as a guide, we developed a Quality Improvement Plan that was fully integrated into all program areas of our CCDHHS Strategic Plan. To build the culture of quality improvement, all staff attended a quality improvement orientation and received training in basic quality improvement principles and processes.
Through this training, we were able to engage staff from all program areas and levels of seniority which brought forth innovative solutions and identified new areas for improvement. By including employees from all roles in quality improvement we were able to imbed quality improvement into all aspects of our work, reduce silos, and improve communication within the Department. As a result, we improved our process for receiving and directing calls; developed and delivered training for animal shelter staff, improving safety and regulatory compliance in our animal shelters; and conducted an assessment of our vehicle fleet, which was ultimately used to secure additional vehicles.
Our Performance Management and Workforce Development Plans held CCDHHS accountable to the objectives and timelines outlined in our Strategic Plan. The alignment of these plans facilitated prioritization and adherence to our program goals and collaborative work towards well defined and measurable outcomes. As a result, we have met program objectives more quickly and efficiently. Our Workforce Development Plan has structured our individual and organizational learning objectives. This allowed us to identify training that supports our goals of building capacity and strengthening the Department’s cultural competency.
Both the accreditation process and the feedback provided by our site visitors changed how we document and share our achievements. During our self-assessment, we identified many successful and evidence-based programs, practices and partnerships that were not consistently documented well. Using the Standards and Measures, the CCDHHS established a deliberate and uniform system of recording services provided and outcomes achieved. This has enabled the Department to better share our accomplishments and community health gains, promoting the agency’s value to the community, elected officials, and stakeholders. Adopting a formal documentation system has improved our applications for new funding sources and has made us a more valuable partner agency.
Camden County Department of Health and Human Services in Blackwood, NJ, was awarded national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board on September 13, 2017.
About the authors: Paschal Nwako, PhD, MPH, CHES, REHS, DAAS, is County Health Officer and Public Health Coordinator at Camden County Department of Health and Human Services in Blackwood, NJ. Caryelle Lasher, MPH is Communicable Disease Supervisor and Accreditation Coordinator at Camden County Department of Health and Human Services. Contact them at [email protected]
⇒ Other major benefits gained as a result of going through the accreditation process:
- Improved documentation of Department plans, processes, program outcomes, successes, and opportunities for improvement
- Strengthened internal coordination, cohesion and knowledge among different programs and staff
- Cultivated a culture of continuous quality improvement and performance management in all aspects of public health service delivery
- Implemented an on-going customer satisfaction survey initiative
- Enhanced agency succession planning and capacity building efforts through cross-training and documentation of processes and procedures
- Site visitors identified a successful program with the potential to be a model practice
- Developed an intranet CCDHHS page to share and promote the performance management tracking system, QI projects, and program updates