March 17, 2006
MECKLENBURG COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT BEGINS PUBLIC HEALTH ACCREDITATION PROCESS
Charlotte, NC - The Mecklenburg County Health Department is currently undertaking the process of state accreditation. It's a program begun by the State of North Carolina to ensure that every county provides essential public health services for their citizens.
North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation took shape in 2002. That's when the State Division of Public Health and the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors began to develop a mandatory, standards-based system for accrediting health departments throughout the state.
Before 2002, there was no accreditation process in North Carolina. That meant different health departments could provide varying levels of services with no set standard. Accreditation ensures departments all across the state provide the same basic services such as community assessment, infectious disease surveillance, environmental health and health promotion. The program is mandated by the North Carolina legislature and administered by the North Carolina Institute for Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Mecklenburg County is currently undergoing this accreditation process, which focuses on minimum standards and three major components:
• Self-assessment. The Mecklenburg County Health Department will provide the state with a snapshot of its work from an inside perspective. This information is due to the state board by April 17.
• Site visit - May 24 - 26. A group of volunteers from the State and other health departments will review documentation, tour Mecklenburg County facilities and talk with staff and customers.
• Determination of accreditation. An Independent Accrediting Board will make a determination in late June.
"This is a good opportunity for us to learn more about our strengths and weaknesses with an eye towards improvement," said Dr. Wynn Mabry. "This valuable experience will help us deliver in a more efficient manner the ten essential services we are charged to provide."
Currently, there are only ten departments from across the state that have met the new standards and been accredited. Gaston County joins Mecklenburg in the next group of ten that could receive their accreditations in FY2006.