Project Description

Accreditation Drives Naugatuck Valley Health District to New Levels of Excellence

By Joan N. Lane, MPH

Many are the ways that seeking and receiving accreditation in November 2015 – and now working toward our reaccreditation application in late 2020 – have benefitted our 6-town health district, and, we hope, the communities we serve. A lot of what changed at Naugatuck Valley Health District (NVHD) was tied to infrastructure. Like many organizations, we had conducted many rounds of strategic planning over the years, and labored over the wording of mission and vision statements, goals and objectives. But as we prepared for PHAB accreditation, we had to do significant foundational work at a very new level of sophistication.

Strategic plan. Performance management. Quality improvement.  Standard operating procedures. Workforce development. None of these was an entirely new concept at NVHD. But the discipline with which we began to approach these practice elements, and the consistency of our revisiting and monitoring them, began to take on a new cast. They became part of our fabric.

We credit our long-time (now retired) Director of Health with driving this organization to a new level of excellence, which culminated in our PHAB accreditation in 2015. A staff of 18 smart and dedicated public health professionals developed, refined and operationalized these critical processes and programs.  Self-examination tells us that while we have increased our staff’s engagement in analyzing our performance and identifying opportunities for improvement, we have not been as systematic in engaging our customers in providing feedback.

What does this mean?  How can we better integrate “the voice of the customer” into our performance management and quality improvement activities?

Steps taken:

— In 2017, we conducted a customer satisfaction survey (which had been done in the past, but not for a number of years).  The 50 respondents indicated an overall high level of satisfaction with NVHD’s services. First-time visitors reported difficulty finding our building and knowing which building entrance to use.  We are addressing this issue through improved directions on our website, and we hope to support improved building signage.

— We increased our effort to draw the community into our CHIP review by hosting a public forum. Community involvement in health improvement  planning remains an ongoing concern, which we are working to address through our multi-agency CHIP steering committee.

Additional steps in the works:

— Soliciting customer feedback on our forms and communications for clarity and ease of use.

— Reviewing our processes for licensing and permitting to streamline the process for both customers and staff.

Our agency exists to serve the residents of our communities. Letting our residents weigh in on our success in serving them is key to meeting our mission.

Naugatuck Valley Health District in Seymour, Connecticut, was awarded national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board on November 10, 2015.

About the author: Joan N. Lane, MPH, is Accreditation Coordinator and Public Health Specialist at Naugatuck Valley Health District in Seymour, Connecticut. Contact her at [email protected].

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

  • Increased collaboration between Environmental Health and Community Health staff
  • Increased Board of Health familiarity with agency’s operations and with the accreditation process and value
  • More focus on evidence-based programming
  • Stronger partnership with the local hospital