Advancing Public Health
Georgia Public Health District Accreditation Program
Healthcare Georgia Foundation launched the Georgia Public Health District Accreditation Pilot Program in 2012 as an extension of the Foundation’s prior work and dedication to advancing public health in Georgia. The purpose of the funding opportunity was to: 1) improve the quality and performance of the public health system in Georgia; 2) assist public health districts in evaluating and restructuring their infrastructure; and 3) align resources with performance.
The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) was established with the backing of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its goal is to “help public health departments assess their current capacity and guide them to continuously improve the quality of their services, thus promoting a healthier public.” (Guide to National Public Health Department Accreditation, www.phaboard.org) The emphasis is to assist health departments—state, local, tribal and territorial—in providing high quality programs, enhancing workforce capabilities, and being responsive to community needs. The result is a national system with a set of standards for accountability and quality improvement, a process for measuring performance against those standards, and a means for recognizing those who meet the standards.
The Georgia Public Health Accreditation program goals were:
- Increase the number of public health districts in Georgia actively engaged in accreditation readiness and preparedness activities;
- Document the accreditation process for both single-county and multi-jurisdictional districts, including barriers and successful strategies;
- Foster productive interactions of public health districts and county health departments with local communities;
- Enhance the accountability of public health districts and county health departments; and
- Create opportunities for public health districts to become models for other districts and share lessons learned.
During the pilot program, the Foundation awarded grants to DeKalb County Board of Health and Gwinnett County Board of Health, serving Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties. In September 2012, the health districts were both awarded a two-year grant for $112,500 to complete PHAB’s three required prerequisites for accreditation: community health assessment; community health improvement plan; and agency strategic plan. A grant for $65,000 was awarded to Georgia Southern University’s Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health to serve as the technical assistance provider to the two grantees. In June 2014, both DeKalb and Gwinnett Boards of Health received additional funding of $50,000 each for 12 months to continue their accreditation work, complete PHAB’s Standards and Measures documentation and prepare for site visits from PHAB. Both health districts received accreditation from PHAB.
In 2015, the second phase of the Foundation’s work in accreditation focused on assisting public health districts with multiple counties in Georgia with their accreditation readiness activities. The grants were smaller in scope and scale in order to assist public health districts to begin the process of the either conducting at least one of the three prerequisites or addressing PHAB’s Standards and Measures, such as quality improvement, and performance management. Four grants were approved for $52,500 each for an 18-month period during the second phase.
The Foundation’s investment in the Georgia Public Health District Accreditation Program totals $600,000. The Foundation continues to be committed to advancing the work of public health in Georgia.
Georgia Public Health District Accreditation Grantees
DeKalb County Board of Health ($162,500) – Pilot Phase Grant Awarded $112,500 in 2012 and $50,000 in 2014; (Accredited by PHAB in March 2016)
Gwinnett County Board of Health ($162,500) – Pilot Phase Grant Awarded $112,500 in 2012 and $50,000 in 2014; (Accredited by PHAB in August 2016)
Glynn County Board of Health ($52,500) – Phase II Grant Awarded in 2015
Houston County Board of Health/North Central Health District ($52,500) – Phase II Grant Awarded in 2015; (Accredited by PHAB in November 2017)
Laurens County Board of Health ($52,500) – Phase II Grant Awarded in 2015
Troup County Board of Health ($52,500) – Phase II Grant Awarded in 2015
Georgia Southern University Research and Service Foundation, Inc. ($65,000) – Pilot Phase Grant Awarded in 2012 for Technical Assistance
The Foundation also awarded a grant in July 2011 for $8,000 to the Cobb Health Futures Foundation to support accreditation planning costs for the Cobb & Douglas Public Health District. Cobb & Douglas Public Health was the first health district in Georgia to achieve accreditation in May 2015. In June 2017, the Clayton County Board of Health received a grant for $8,000 to support public health accreditation activities.