Accreditation involves a healthcare facility voluntarily applying and welcoming trained external peer review to evaluate the compliance, organization and performance standards of the facility. In 2007, the Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) through its leadership decided to seek national accreditation. What followed was an eight-year journey of determination, failure, and dedication that culminated in their final accreditation in 2015. The case study, The Journey to Accreditation: The Story of Clinton County Health Department, takes us through the nitty-gritty that CCHD had to go through to secure national accreditation.
The national accreditation of the Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) took eight years of proper planning, research, and work. Indeed, accreditation is largely used by healthcare institutions and departments as a tool for seeking both national and internal recognition (Echols, 2017). Through accreditation, a healthcare facility or department demonstrates to the public that its healthcare standards and patient safety measures are up to the national or international healthcare standards. According to the case study, the Clinton County Health Department sought accreditation mainly to promote the department as an innovative public health institution in the county. The decision to have CCHD accredited was largely influenced by numerous health journals that highlighted the accreditation movement, advantages, and process (Beatty, 2018). CCHD’s leadership team wanted to present its department as one of the best in the county, and whose functions, organizations, and performance standards are in line with nationally accepted healthcare standards. The leadership team also pursued accreditation as a way of ensuring a lasting legacy for the Clinton County Health Department and Community. Additionally, the accreditation information in the health journals and magazines helped convince the staff of the CCHD the importance of the certification and have them buy into the CCHD’s leadership plans.
As the director of a local health department, I would not pursue national accreditation due to numerous reasons. First, accreditation is a time-consuming process since it may take years to achieve. Accreditation also requires a department’s staff to spend a lot of time conducting proper research, planning, meetings, and site visits, thus lowering the performance and standards of a local health department, which are rarely properly staffed. Moreover, the process involves numerous steps, just as in the case of CCHD, which may interfere with the day to day running of a local health department. Secondly, accreditation is an expensive affair that involves huge preparation fees and costs. It requires proper preparation that involves fieldwork and research, which do not come cheap. Besides, after conducting the research and preparing all the requirements for accreditation, a healthcare department must part with a certain sum of money for the certification. According to Echols (2017), an annual fee of $4,000 is the lowest amount charged for accreditation. Spending a large amount of money on the mentioned process may prevent a local health department from running other important operations. Thirdly, as the director of a local health department, I would not pursue national accreditation because it does not guarantee an instant increase in inpatient admissions.
The CCHD motivated its staff and community to take part in their accreditation agenda in several ways. First, it educated the staff members on the importance and advantages of national accreditation by disseminating relevant health journals and publications to its staff. Consequently, the workers comprehended CCHD’s leadership decided to seek national certification and they supported the move. CCHD’s leadership also included the staff in the process of accreditation by working with the members as a team, which ensured that everyone felt part of CCHD’s accreditation program. When CCHD faced leadership change and staff downsizing, the CCHD’s leadership put on hold the accreditation process to boost the morale of the staff. By putting brakes on the accreditation issue the CCHD’s leadership showed concern for the department’s staff thus motivating them. Moreover, the leadership engaged the staff in teambuilding exercises and offered on the job training for the remaining staff.
The Clinton County Health Department exhibited unprecedented patience, resilience, and determination to achieve accreditation. For eight years, the department cleared hurdles, ranging from changes in leadership, staff retrenchment, and subsequent reduction in morale to ensure it achieved its objective of national accreditation. The national accreditation of the Clinton County Health Department is the first step in ensuring that quality health care services and patient safety standards and procedures are not only maintained but also improved regularly. Furthermore, it empowers the department to invest more in clinical research, evidence-based practices, and strategies for improving its existent performance standards. Finally, the certification opens doors for the CCHD to raise its healthcare performance standards to seek international healthcare accreditation.
The accreditation is likely to cause CCHD some issues. The main challenge for the CCHD will be maintaining the national health quality, patient safety, and performance standards it has achieved. CCHD’s leadership has to come up with strategies and techniques of ensuring that the national standards it currently has do not deteriorate. CCHD has to focus and invest a significant amount of resources on contemporary clinical research, which is in line with its national accreditation. If CCHD fails to do the mentioned to maintain standards, it will lose the accreditation.
accreditation is important in ensuring that healthcare facilities achieve and maintain high clinical and medical performance standards. All healthcare facilities in the country should strive to achieve not only national but also international accreditation.
Beatty, K. E., Meit, M., Luzzi, O., Siegfried, A., Heffernan, M., Nadel, T., & Searing, M. C. (2018). The Journey to Accreditation: The Story of Clinton County Health Department. In JPHMPs 21 public health case studies on policy & administration (pp. 248–258). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.
Echols, T. (2017). A multi-county health districts journey to accreditation: The challenges and benefits. Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association, 7(1). DOI: 10.21633/jgpha.7.111