The Anson County Health Department was one of four in the state to be awarded honors designation and one of nine to be reaccredited by the North Carolina Local Health Department Reaccreditation Board on Dec. 19, according to a press release.
“We received our first accreditation back in 2013, so now we have went thought our second round which means reaccreditation,” said Evonne Burr, administrative officer and preparedness coordinator at the Anson County Health Department. “Local health departments are required by the state to be accredited every four years, you much past accreditation in order to receive state money.”
North Carolina is the first state in the country to mandate accreditation for its local health departments. The purpose of the accreditation program is to assure a basic level of capacity and services in each of the local health departments across the state.
Since the pilot program involving six departments began in 2004, all 85 have been accredited and 82 have been reaccredited at least once, according to a press release.
The other agencies to be reaccredited were: Catawba County Public Health, Craven County Health Department, Granville-Vance District Health Department, Harnett County Health Department, Lenoir County Health Department, Macon County Health Department, Nash County Health Department, and Stanly County Health Department.
“All of the agencies recently achieving reaccreditation have much to be proud of,” said Amy Belflower Thomas, accreditation administrator. “They have not only demonstrated their ability to meet a set of important performance standards, but excelled in many areas.”
“Through reaccreditation, these agencies demonstrate a strong commitment to continuously work to improve the quality of services provided to their respective communities,” she added.
The process of accreditation includes three major components:
• a self-assessment completed by the agency which includes 41 benchmarks and 148 activities;
• a three-day site visit by a multidisciplinary team of peers to review performance standards; and
• determination of accreditation status by an independent accreditation board comprised of state and local public health officials, Board of Health members, county commissioners, and public members.
Anson met 146 of those activities, according to Burr.
The honorary designation was first implemented in 2017 to recognize agencies that especially excelled in their accreditation assessment by missing one or less activities within each of five standards set by the program, according to the release.
The other three agencies receiving honors designation were the Catawba, Granville-Vance and Macon county departments.
State officials said in the release that they were “extremely pleased” to see the recognition achieved by a diverse group of health departments — including a district model and a health department of only 19 employees.
The N.C. Local Health Department Accreditation program is a collaboration of the North Carolina Institute for Public Health (part of the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors, and the North Carolina Division of Public Health (part of the NC Department of Health and Human Services).
Burr said there would be no change in the Anson department’s day-to-day operations.