In 2013, Livingston County Department of Health became one of the first nine local health departments in the United States to achieve accreditation through PHAB, and the first accredited health department in New York State. While sometimes daunting, accreditation was the driving force that kept the team building and staff moraleundercurrent flowing.The first cycle provided us with the tools to move forward: using best practices, developing a strategic plan more aligned with the community health assessment, and empowering staff.
The biggest accomplishment, however, is the credibility we gained as public health chief strategist, which developed for our health department as a result of becoming accredited. At least weekly, other health departments, agencies or government entities will ask for assistance or pose questions. Often times, this is attributed to our accreditation status. Initially we were apprehensive about providing guidance and resources. Over time, however, we realized that working through accreditation gave us the knowledge and skill base required to be a leader in this endeavor. These requests provide us the opportunity to form new alliances with a diverse group of partners. This was crucial to the success of the department as a community health strategist. This collaborative work led to an increase in local and regional health outcomes. As our credibility flourished, our implementation of best practices strengthened. Having staff buy-in at all levels helped effectuate change from policy development to cultural awareness and community investment. Most recently this has been seen in the development of New York State’s Social Host Liability Law, which has evolved from educational awareness to law development with diverse stakeholders with the same mission. The law applies to any adult (including parents) who are over the age of 18 and knowingly allow consumption of alcohol by a person younger than 21.
The biggest accomplishment was evidenced during the reaccreditation process when leaders of our state health department asked if they could observe our reaccreditation process. This was very validating to our department and team members and a true honor. Additionally, since our first accreditation status we have collaborated and entered into several regional, state, and national partnerships. I believe this would not have been possible without PHAB accreditation status.
Livingston County Department of Health in Mt. Morris, New York, was awarded national accreditation through PHAB on February 27, 2013.
About the author: Jennifer Rodriguez, MSW, MS, is Health Director at Livingston County Department of Health in Mt. Morris, New York. Contact her at [email protected].