POMEROY — With the click of a mouse, the Meigs County Health Department came one step closer to accreditation.
For the past four years the health department has been working through the process of accreditation as required by July 2020. Ohio law states that all local health departments must gain national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) by July 2020.
On Wednesday, that hard work resulted in the submission of the accreditation documents ahead of schedule.
Meigs County Health Department is believed to be the second in the region to submit for accreditation, said Administrator Courtney Midkiff. Portsmouth City Health Department has already submitted, had their site visit and has an action plan on items which are to be completed in the next year.
For the past three years and four months, Michelle Willard has been overseeing the process of accreditation, compiling around 400 documents (600-800 individual pieces) and nine plans which were submitted to PHAB.
“It has been a long, difficult process,” said Willard of applying for accreditation, thanking the “amazing team” at the health department for their help and support throughout the process.
Midkiff expressed her appreciation for Willard’s work, as well as the leadership team and all staff members, adding that everyone has had “their fingerprint on this in some way.”
As part of the accreditation work remodeling and upgrades have taken place at the health department in preparation for a site visit which is part of the process.
“Accreditation is a win for the health department and the entire county,” said Midkiff.
Required plans include: Branding Policy, Workforce Development Plan, Emergency Operations Plan, Performance Management Plan, Strategic Plan, Community Health Assessment, and a Community Health Improvement Plan.
The Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) was completed through work with the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College and involved the Get Healthy Meigs! coalition. The CHIP contains five priority areas for Get Healthy Meigs! to focus on including Substance Abuse, Maternal and Child Health, Workforce Development, Chronic Illness, and Healthy Behaviors.
The first two steps are registration and application that the Meigs County Health Department (MCHD) completed in December 2017. Following those two steps, Willard completed a two-day training at the PHAB office in Alexandria, Virginia.
Now, the submitted documents will be reviewed and then a site visit will take place. The visit will take place in a few months and will be conducted by out-of-state evaluated.
The site visit will include interviews with staff, Board of Health members, community partners and others to allow the evaluators to check the accuracy of the documentation.
Following a site visit, the accreditation committee will make a decision on accreditation. Health departments are either accredited for five years or not accredited. If not accredited, the health department has an opportunity to submit an action plan. If the action plan is approved by the Accreditation committee, and the health department is able to show significant improvement, they could become accredited. Failure to submit an action plan will result in the health department not being accredited.
Once accredited, health departments must submit annual reports to PHAB and reapply for accreditation every five years.
Following the submission of the documents on Wednesday, health department staff celebrated with “Phabulous” cookies in the shape of Meigs County made by Close to Home Catering (Meigs County Council on Aging).
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.