At Erie County Health Department, Quality Improvement Strategies Increase Employees’ Knowledge of Programs and Services
By Joy Henry, BS
The Quality Improvement Committee at the Erie County Department of Health (ECDH) evaluated the need for this project based upon the agency’s Strategic Plan, specifically, Strategic Priority #1: “Assure consistency, strength and retention of the knowledge base and staffing levels to support fulfillment of the ECDH mission.” As a result, three members of the Quality Improvement Committee developed a survey to evaluate staff’s knowledge of current ECDH programs and the frequency of which they referred clients to these programs. In February 2017, the survey was distributed to all ECDH employees. The survey also asked employees to indicate ways that the Quality Improvement Committee could increase their knowledge of other ECDH programs and services.
As a result of this survey, the Quality Improvement Committee began 2 strategies to increase employees’ knowledge of other ECDH programs and services. The QI Committee provided information on a specific ECDH Program each month. This was done by establishing the “QI Corner” of the Potty Press, an internal newsletter posted in all restrooms within the Department, and by establishing the “QI Minute”, a 5 minute presentation at monthly staff meetings to reiterate the information provided in the QI Corner. Topics included programs and initiatives such as Condom Distribution, the Pollinator Garden, the Department QI Plan, Refugee Health, Tobacco Cessation Services, Erie County Recreational Passport, Maternal Child Health, Healthy Corner Store Initiative, Matter of Balance, and Yellow Dot.
To evaluate whether these strategies improved employees’ knowledge of other ECDH programs and services, a post survey was distributed in January 2018. The post survey indicated the following results:
Employees indicated that they referred less than 25% of clients to additional programs: 36% (pre) to 30% (post.)
Employees indicated that they referred more than 50% of clients to additional programs: 42% (pre) to 44% (post.)
Employees indicated that they referred more than 75% of clients to additional programs: 22% (pre) to 26% (post)
The post survey indicated that the two strategies implemented by the QI Committee improved staff’s knowledge of other ECDH programs and services, increasing the percentage of employees referring 50% or more of clients to other programs and services by 6 percentage points within the first year of implementation. In addition, 86% of staff indicated that the QI Corner of the Potty Press increased their knowledge of Department programs while 95% of staff indicated that the QI Minute at staff meetings increased their knowledge of Department programs. Anecdotally, staff indicated that their confidence in cross-referrals had improved through these interventions as well. Staff input will be collected on an annual basis to schedule new programs that will be incorporated into these new communication strategies. Progress will continue to be monitored through annual staff surveys.
Erie County Department of Health in Erie, Pennsylvania,, was awarded national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board on September 17, 2014.
About the author: Joy Henry, BS, at Erie County Department of Health in Erie, Pennsylvania. Contact her at [email protected].
Other major benefits gained as a result of going through the accreditation process:
Staff have become more comfortable talking about and referring to programs outside their expertise
The Department has established two new processes for staff communication
The Department has identified a need for a more comprehensive communication plan
The Department has identified a need for consistent customer service feedback
Department staff have initiated new interdivisional collaborations to improve current programming