Health Dept Flu Shot Clinic

PUTNAM COUNTY — “A lot of it was about quality improvement, so improving what we do,” says Putnam County Health Commissioner Kim Rieman. “We look at measurable outcomes… We have a performance management system where we look at all of our different [programs]. It’s not just environmental health. It’s not just nursing. It’s our entire health department. We create measures and goals, and then we work to meet our goals.”

Commissioner Rieman is commenting on the county’s health department having achieved a national accreditation focused on improving the effectiveness of health programs, and increasing access to quality care. Fewer than 300 health departments have achieved this accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), according to a recent media release, and Putnam County is now one of these few.

“With accreditation, the focus is continuous quality improvement,” says Joan Kline, the Accreditation Coordinator and Educator with the Putnam County Health Dept. “Making sure what we’re doing is effective, and it is addressing the health needs of our community.”

“For accreditation, [PHAB] utilizes both paid staff and volunteer accreditors,” Mrs. Kline adds a short time later. “When evaluating a health department, the accreditors always come from out of state to better ensure an unbiased review.”

“Those site visitors, then, look at all of the documents that we submit. Hundreds of documents are submitted to show we meet the standards that [PHAB] has setup. There are 100 measures, and we have to submit documents that show that we meet every one, or as many as we can. And, within those measures, sometimes we have to submit five or 10 different examples to show.”

“Then, they come-in for a two-day site visit. During that site visit, they meet with our partners, they meet with members of our board, and then with all of our staff to go over the 12 domains. There are domains, standards, and measures. So, we had 12 meetings with different site visitors to discuss ifthey had any questions about our documentation, or if they just wanted to know how certain programs work.”

“The very first [domain] is assessing your community, assessing the health needs of your community,” says Commissioner Rieman. “That’s where the Community Health Assessment fits in. Then, there are things like workforce development. How do we develop our workforce so that we they can respond to the needs of our community.”

“Domain three is Health Education. How are we getting information out to our community? What methods are we using to communicate with our community? Each domain has its own review process.”

“Our goal was to make sure we did it right. We were successful the first time around. Now, we can move-on and continue to do the things that we’ve become very good at doing in providing the services we provide.”

“They don’t necessarily look at how we provide care,” Mrs. Kline also adds, “They don’t look at our immunization clinic, and how we operate that clinic. That’s taken care of through [other accreditation]…It’s how do we help our community get the care they need.”

This past year, Pathways Counseling Center, one of the health department partners, began offering adolescent psychology services through telemedicine. This is an example of expanded access to health care being provided to the community. A service that once was not available in-county, now is.

In 2013, the state mandated that all Ohio health departments must be PHAB ‘accreditation-ready’ by July of 2018, and then fully accredited by July 2020. With this final deadline just over a year away, Commissioner Rieman and Mrs. Kline anticipated that more agencies would be joining Putnam’s this year in achieving PHAB accreditation. That was not the case, and only Allen and Putnam counties joined Ohio’s other 27 accredited health departments this year.

“We have definitely become a better health department because we’ve done this,” Commissioner Rieman says. “It really has made us look at what we do, why we do it, and how we do it. It’s really changed our whole mindset…It makes us look at everything we do through a different lens. To see if it’s something that we need to continue to do. Is it something that’s advancing the health of our community? And, it makes us more aware. It makes us really look at quality improvement.”