Site visit planned for health department accreditation

By Sarah Hawley -

POMEROY — After submitting more than 400 documents as part of the accreditation process in February, the Meigs County Health Department now has a date for the site visit as part of the process.

This will be the next major step toward gaining national accreditation with the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). Ohio law states that all local health departments must gain national accreditation through PHAB by July 2020.

The accreditation specialist from PHAB, along with three evaluators from different states, will be coming to the Meigs County Health Department on Jan. 22 and 23, 2020, to conduct the site visit.

“This site visit will be a culmination of nearly five years of dedicated work by our staff and partners such as you and a significant investment of additional resources,” said Administrator Courtney Midkiff.

Michelle Willard, who as served as the lead on the accreditation process for the Meigs County Health Department, explained that when the site visit takes place, the evaluators will be checking the facility itself, taking a tour of the building, meeting with representatives from the Board of Health and community partners, checking for branding, ADA compliance and HIPPA requirements, among other things.

In addition to the paperwork portion, which included the Community Health Assessment and the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), the health department has been working on preparing the site for the visit.

The health department has been working on renovations, as well as increasing security features in the building and the branding/signs.

“We want to make sure our county-owned building is clean, safe and secure for our constituents and staff,” said Midkiff of preparing the building for both day-to-day service use and the accreditation visit.

Currently, the more than 400 documents submitted by the health department are being reviewed by PHAB, with feedback expected sometime in September. At that time, the health department would have 30 days to make any needed adjustments or additions to the paperwork.

The site visitors will complete a report following their two days in Meigs County, and will then submit the report to the accreditation board for a final decision.

The decision from PHAB will be one of three options, accreditation granted, the issuance of an action plan which will need to be completed within one year, or denial of accreditation, which means the process would have to start again from the beginning stages.

Midkiff said of the accreditation process, “It is very important to Meigs County to have an accredited local health department to ensure our constituents continue to receive high-quality public health services. We must be accredited by July 1, 2020, per Ohio law to continue to received state funds and to be eligible for state grants (of which comprise a large amount of our budget).”

To date, a total of 32 local health departments, plus the state health department, have received accreditation in Ohio. The only health department in Southeast Ohio to have completed the site visit is Portsmouth City Health Department, who was given an action plan to complete the accreditation process, stated Midkiff.

Willard and Midkiff thanked the community and their community partners for their support during the process, as well as the continued support of the levy which has helped to provide the needed funds for the accreditation work and day-to-day operations of the health department. Grant funds have also assisted with the funding for the Community Health Assessment and related work.

Midkiff also commended the work of Willard who has been able to “drive the process” for the past four-plus years. She said that having a person who was able to work on the accreditation process full-time has allowed the process to move forward and be successful.

Once the accreditation process is completed, the Meigs County Health Department must submit for reaccreditation every five years.

By Sarah Hawley

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.