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Public health department to seek national accreditation

Victoria Advocate - 1/3/2018

Jan. 03--The director of the Victoria County Public Health Department wants to hold his organization to national standards.

During Monday's Commissioners Court meeting, Derrick Neal discussed the department's plans to seek national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board. That plan began with Lisa Campbell, who served as director before Neal, he said.

"It shows that they are reflecting a set of national standards, practices and protocols. That's what accreditation is," said Neal during the meeting's public comment period.

Kaye Bender, Public Health Accreditation Board, said seeking accreditation could mean more grants and public funding in Victoria County.

Bender said about 52 percent of surveyed public health departments reported the accreditation process improved their abilities to secure funding.

But pursuing the accreditation process, which Bender described as "strenuous," is about more than money. Striving for strict national standards can lead to more efficient operations, Neal and Bender said.

In pursuing accreditation, departments are often required to question what services are offered, who benefits and how they can be improved -- even if the process is not completed, Bender said.

"It helped to have that external validation," she said. "That's one of the big findings."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 180 local public health departments have achieved accreditation. In Texas, only five have.

But Bender said that although accreditation may be rare in Texas, such is not the case for departments in communities with small populations like Victoria County.

About 20 health departments serving populations with fewer than 50,000 people have already achieved accreditation. Another 20 are undergoing the process.

While Neal said accreditation in Victoria County is still likely years away, commissioners are taking concrete steps in that direction.

County commissioners plan to fund an advisory team to guide the public health department through the process, he said.

"We have to be more efficient with the limited resources we have," he said.

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(c)2018 Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas)

Visit Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas) at www.victoriaadvocate.com

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