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St. Croix County Public Health: One of first in nation to receive national accreditation

NEW RICHMOND, WI – St. Croix County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) – Public Health announced on September 18 that it has achieved national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).

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. St. Croix County-Public Health is one of the first of hundreds of health departments across the country that are preparing to seek accreditation through PHAB, the independent organization that administers the national public health accreditation program.

“We are pleased and excited to be one of the first health departments in the nation to achieve national standards that foster effectiveness and promote continuous quality improvement,” said Deb Lindemann, St. Croix County Health Officer.  “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, St. Croix County Public Health 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. “Whenever you see our seal of accreditation, you will know that St. Croix County Public Health has been rigorously examined and meets or exceeds national standards that promote continuous quality improvement for public health,” Lindemann said. “By continuing to improve our services and performance, we can be sure we are meeting the public health needs of those we serve as effectively as possible.”

Public health departments play a critical role in protecting and improving the health of people and communities. As in cities, towns, and states across the nation, St. Croix County Public Health provides 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.

“St. Croix County Public Health is one of the first of many health departments that we look forward to being able to recognize as a high-performing public health department,” 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.”

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, nearly 130 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. “Achieving accreditation indicates that St. Croix County Public Health is dedicated to improving and protecting the health of the community by striving to continuously improve the quality of the services it delivers,” said PHAB Board of Directors Chair. Leslie M. Beitsch, MD, JD, “Accreditation also promotes consistency in meeting standards. With an ever-increasing number of health departments now applying for and becoming accredited, you will be able to expect to receive the same quality of public health services wherever you go in the United States.”

St. Croix County Public Health, founded in 1936 in response to a statewide tuberculosis crisis, initially consisted of one nurse in a red brick building. In 1994, public health became part of St. Croix County Health and Human Services. Today, the Public Health Department serves a population of 84,000 county residents and has 22 staff, including 7 nurses. The mission of the health department is “to protect and promote health, prevent disease and injury and empower communities to live healthier lifestyles.”

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