Bottom Line: “Accreditation Truly Does Work!”

Accreditation Works!

In Richmond, KY, PHAB accreditation fosters monthly Domain and strategic planning reviews


Rebecca M. Colligan

June 18, 2014 was a very special day for the Madison County Health Department in Richmond, Kentucky. It was on that day that the health department was awarded national accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board. Our team is very proud of this accomplishment, as many hands were involved in our health department receiving this prestigious recognition. As we reflect back on our accreditation journey, we ask ourselves – “What is the Madison County Health Department doing differently today as a result of going through accreditation?” Our answer — Monthly Domain and Strategic Planning “SMART” Goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound) Reviews.

The Madison County Health Department (MCHD) began its accreditation preparation work many years prior to becoming a nationally accredited public health department. Accreditation was a new goal to reach for health departments and we basically started our preparation work from scratch. We began with the organization of folders via our company intranet and the documentation assignments within the 12 Domains. Before becoming accredited, we did not review these Domains monthly to verify that we had adequate documentation to demonstrate all measures. After becoming accredited, we changed that habit.

Presently, one Domain is reviewed each month during our branch chief’s meeting, which is attended by senior leaders at MCHD. Our branch chiefs are all aware of which Domains they are responsible for and which month they will be reviewing their Domain with the team. For example, Domain 1 is reviewed in January while Domain 12 will be reviewed in December. By doing this, all of the documentation requirements are fresh on everyone’s minds and there are no last-minute surprises as to what we need to demonstrate in our reaccreditation review in 2019. We are currently in the process of gathering documentation and placing it in the appropriate folder to meet the new Version 1.5 PHAB standards.

We have found that a monthly review process can have more than one application. For instance, the branch chiefs and director reviewed the six SMART planning goals that came out of the previous planning cycle (2010-2015) at every monthly meeting. This practice augmented and reinforced the structure and ease of tracking deliverables in the strategic plan that the PHAB standards require. In fact, all of MCHD’s agency documents that we write and structure according to PHAB standards, such as our Community Health Assessment and our Community Health Improvement Plan, are better, more usable, and more readable documents than they would be otherwise. It also allowed the leadership team to keep the strategic plan a living document by regularly tracking progress toward meeting goals and documenting this progress in meeting minutes, just as PHAB Domain compliance is assured and documented in the same meeting minutes. During the new strategic planning cycle (2016-2020), the leadership team will adhere to this same practice, this time with eight SMART goals from the new strategic plan to be monitored every month during this time frame.

Our mission at MCHD is to protect, promote, and improve the health of our community. Meeting PHAB’s accreditation standards and measures is helping us achieve success with this very important mission.

Accreditation truly does work!

The author serves as Accreditation Coordinator at Madison County Health Department in Richmond, Kentucky. Madison County Health Department was awarded national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board on June 18, 2014.

About “Accreditation Works”
“Accreditation Works” is a new feature designed to showcase the benefits national accreditation brings to public health departments and communities while also providing insight into accreditation’s broad impact. To support this feature, PHAB-accredited health departments are invited to contribute 300-to-600-word narratives describing how their health department has changed as a result of going through the accreditation process. Collectively, these stories serve as first-hand testimonies of how PHAB accreditation benefits health departments and their communities. Submissions may be emailed to



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