Houston health department first in state, second large city to attain national accreditation

Dec. 16, 2014City of Houston

The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) is now the first health department in Texas and the second in a large U.S. city to earn national accreditation.

HDHHS announced today it achieved national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board. The national accreditation program works to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of the nation’s Tribal, state, local and territorial public health departments.

HDHHS-logo“We are pleased to be recognized for achieving national standards that foster effectiveness and promote continuous quality improvement,” said Stephen Williams, HDHHS director. “The accreditation process helps to ensure that the programs and services we provide are as responsive as possible to the needs of our community. With accreditation, Houston is demonstrating increased accountability and credibility to the public, funders, elected officials and partner organizations with which we work.”

The national accreditation program, jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards against which the nation’s more than 3,000 governmental public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. To receive accreditation, a health department must undergo a rigorous, multi-faceted, peer¬≠ reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets or exceeds a set of quality standards and measures.

Public health departments play a critical role in protecting and improving the health of people and communities. In cities, towns, and states across the nation, health departments provide a range of services aimed at promoting healthy behaviors; preventing diseases and injuries; ensuring access to safe food, water, clean air, and life-saving immunizations; and preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.

HDHHS is a full service public health department providing environmental regulation, food protection, services and nutrition for seniors, clinical services for certain communicable diseases, WIC and family planning.  HDHHS also manages four health centers, 11 multi-service centers and provides a variety of human services throughout the city.

“The Houston Health Department joins the growing ranks of accredited health departments in a strong commitment to their public health mission,” said PHAB President and CEO Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN. “The peer-review process provides valuable feedback to inform health departments of their strengths and areas for improvement, so that they can better protect and promote the health of the people they serve in their communities. Residents of a community served by a nationally accredited health department can be assured that their health department has demonstrated the capacity to protect and promote the health of that community.”

The national accreditation program was created collaboratively over a 10-year period by hundreds of public health practitioners working at the national, Tribal, state, and local levels. Since the program’s launch in September 2011, hundreds of public health departments have applied to PHAB for accreditation, and hundreds of public health practitioners from across the nation have been trained to serve as volunteer peer site visitors for the program.