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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: June 8, 2016



DOVER, DE (June 8, 2016) - Delaware is one of 19 state health departments to receive national public health agency accreditation, Governor Jack Markell, DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf and Delaware Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Karyl Rattay announced today. DPH received its five-year accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). While such an achievement seems technical in nature, the overall outcome is that the people of Delaware will be better served by a continually improving public health agency. Delaware is the only accredited state health agency in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Accreditation also satisfies a goal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which identified accreditation as a key strategy for strengthening our nation's public health infrastructure. A strong public health infrastructure is more important than ever in the constantly changing local, national and global health environment.

"The Division of Public Health's decision to seek accreditation demonstrates its commitment to continuous improvement and I congratulate the entire staff for earning this recognition after several years of hard work," said Gov. Jack Markell. "Most important is the positive impact it will have on the people we serve through better health outcomes for all Delawareans."

The Division of Public Health began preparing four years ago. Before submitting its application, DPH completed several crucial steps with $850,000 in federal funding support, including finalizing Delaware's first state health improvement plan and its organizational strategic plan, addressing challenges identified in a self-assessment and strategy maps for health reform and health equity.

"Every day, there are new issues coming Public Health's way - Ebola, the Zika virus and the addiction epidemic," Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said in naming a few. "I am grateful for the level of expertise you provide to our state and to every Delawarean. Under Dr. Rattay's leadership, you have built an even stronger agency through your commitment to transparency and accountability through this accreditation process."

To increase efficiency and effectiveness, Public Health began using a performance management system, added quality improvement training and consultation, and integrated information technology infrastructure to support these initiatives. Increasingly, the public expects their state and local governments to be accountable and to meet national standards. Public Health had to show its commitment to providing high quality services to our communities.

"DPH decided to pursue accreditation not for its own sake but to ensure we were the best we could be," said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. "DPH must constantly evolve and respond to the needs in the community and potential health challenges far beyond Delaware. I am so proud of DPH personnel and their hard work."

DPH formally applied for accreditation in January 2015. Over two days in November 2015, a three-person site visit team visited DPH and held 22 meetings with agency personnel and partners. The site visit team assessed 300 submitted documents, met with staff and partner organizations, and submitted their final report to PHAB.

The site visit team noted these strengths: DPH's strategic plan; its policies, procedures, and financial management; its internal support for public messaging; and its efforts to create a culture of evidence-based public health practice and partnership building. The team stated that their impression was that DPH operates at a high level of achievement and is a proven and trusted partner with community agencies, the state legislature and the Secretary's office. In addition, DPH staff has tools they need to support population health, and there are opportunities to further engage communities.

In the Mid-Atlantic region, there are four accredited county and local health departments besides DPH. They are: the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Erie County Department of Health in Erie, Pennsylvania; the Township of Bloomfield Department of Health and Human Services in Bloomfield, New Jersey; and the District of Columbia Department of Health in Washington, D.C.

The CDC identified accreditation as a key strategy for strengthening public health infrastructure in its 2004 Futures Initiative. The national accreditation program began in 2011.

For more information on Delaware's accreditation, call DPH's Office of Health and Risk Communication at 302-744-4704. For more information about the accreditation process, contact Teddi Nicolaus, PHAB Communications Manager, at 703-778-4549, x118 or tnicolaus@phaboard.org.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

About the Public Health Accreditation Board
The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) seeks to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of the nations state, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments. PHAB was created to serve as the national public health accrediting body and is jointly funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The development of national public health accreditation has involved, and is supported by, public health leaders and practitioners from the national, tribal, state, local, and territorial levels. Learn more about PHAB or sign up for the PHAB e-newsletter by visiting www.phaboard.org, or contact PHAB Communications Manager Teddi Nicolaus at tnicolaus@phaboard.org, or 703-778-4549, Ext. 118.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.