Project Description

“Accreditation has been the vehicle for the Mississippi State Department of Health to improve and grow relationships with partnering organizations.”

Accreditation Helps to ‘Build a Healthier Mississippi From the Ground Up’

By Angie Gainey, MBA, BSM

The summer of 2014 marked the beginning of Mississippi’s inaugural State Health Assessment (SHA). The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) hosted more than 90 partners to coordinate the year-long effort to address Mississippi’s health outcomes. Changing the health of Mississippians as a result of this great collaboration ignited excitement for everyone involved. The assessment participants ranged from state agencies, non-profits, associations, business groups and community representatives. The comprehensive process assessed the health of Mississippi using the Mobilizing for Action through Partnerships and Planning (MAPP) community engagement model.

Gathering information for the entire state was imperative and could not be done without the help of many individuals. More than 19,000 surveys and 49 focus groups conducted across the state were analyzed to inform the Community Themes and Strengths Assessment. The data collected has proven to be a valuable shared resource for Mississippi non-profit hospitals conducting Community Health Needs Assessments.

At the completion of the SHA, the 90 partners gathered once again to discuss the results of the assessment and choose the state health priorities to be addressed in the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP). The four priority areas chosen are: Improving Infant Health, Creating a Culture of Health, Increase Educational Attainment, and Decreasing Rates of Chronic Disease. Workgroups were formed around each priority area with co-chairs representing the Mississippi State Department of Health and at least one outside organization. A communications work group was tasked with creating a plan to share the results of the SHA and SHIP. The communications work group chose to brand the shared effort in an attempt to involve more community members. UProot, Building a Healthier Mississippi From the Ground Up, was chosen for the SHA/SHIP. UProot is active on social media and is gaining traction with success stories and tips for better health. UProot has been featured in television news stories, local radio shows and various health-related conferences. SHA/SHIP partners have included a link to on their websites.

The partnerships created during the first State Health Assessment meeting have grown as the improvement work continues in Mississippi. However, there are still relationships that must be nurtured. The partnership with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) is one of these relationships. In May 2017, the State Health Assessment and Improvement Committee met to discuss and update data for the State Health Assessment. MSDH, along with the other partners present, were encouraged by the attendance of MBCI for this meeting. This meeting marked the first involvement of Mississippi’s only tribe with the assessment and improvement work.

During the August 1-2 PHAB site visit, the site visitors noted that partnerships are one of the health department’s strengths. Much of this success can be attributed to the accreditation process. Accreditation has been the vehicle for the Mississippi State Department of Health to improve and grow relationships with partnering organizations. As the work continues, MSDH will continue to invite and involve partners as we Build a Healthier Mississippi From the Ground Up.

On September 13, 2017, the Mississippi State Department of Health was awarded accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board. A celebration for all staff, Board of Health members, and partners was held on October 11, 2017.

Mississippi State Department of Health in Jackson, Mississippi, was awarded national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board on September 13, 2017.

About the author: Angie Gainey, MBA, BSM, is Director in the Office of Performance Improvement at the Mississippi State Department of Health in Jackson, Mississippi. Contact her at [email protected].

Other major benefits gained as a result of going through the accreditation process:

  • Identified opportunities for improvement

  • Created an agency Strategic Plan

  • Made sure that health equity is an underlying factor in all decisions

  • Revised and updated policies and plans

  • Created a Workforce Development Plan