Three Oklahoma public health entities are among some of the first health departments to receive national accreditation.
The Public Health Accreditation Board announced Monday that it had awarded a five-year accreditation to 11 health departments across the U.S., including the state Department of Health, Oklahoma City-County Health Department and Comanche County Health Department.
“It's quite a compliment to public health in the state of Oklahoma,” state Health Commissioner Terry Cline said.
The Public Health Accreditation Board was started through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and also the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is focused on health and health care in the U.S.
Kaye Bender, president of the Public Health Accreditation Board, said this is a historic moment in public health.
“With accreditation, we now have national standards that promote continuous quality improvement for public health and a mechanism for recognizing high-performing public health departments,” she said.
More than 125 health departments have applied for the accreditation and are awaiting results. It costs a health department between $12,720 and $95,400 to become accredited, depending on the population size its jurisdiction serves, according to the organization's website.
To receive accreditation, a health department must undergo a lengthy assessment process, which includes a site visit.
Gary Cox, executive director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, said the accreditation could mean a better opportunity to get state, federal and private grants.
“We have been deemed, after all this review, to be a high-performing health department that is effectively delivering public health services to the community,” he said.
Cox said he hopes the department can work more with surrounding cities to compile resources. This would increase the department's ability to serve high-risk populations, such as children living in areas with poor health outcomes and people older than 50 who are at a high risk for developing chronic conditions, such as diabetes.