Haywood County was one of 11 health departments awarded reaccreditation status by the North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation (NCLHDA) Board on May 8.

This is Haywood County’s second reaccreditation since achieving initial accreditation status in 2012.

“All of the agencies recently achieving reaccreditation have much to be proud of. They have not only demonstrated their ability to meet a set of important performance standards, but excelled in many areas. Through reaccreditation, these agencies demonstrate a strong commitment to continuously work to improve the quality of services provided to their respective communities,” said Amy Belflower Thomas, N.C. Local Health Department accreditation administrator.

North Carolina is the first state in the country to mandate accreditation for its local health departments.

The purpose of the accreditation program is to assure a basic level of capacity and services in each of the local health departments across the state, and to function as a quality assessment and improvement process.

The process of accreditation includes three major components: self-assessment, site visit, and determination of status.

The self-assessment, completed over a 4-year cycle by health department staff, consists of 41 benchmarks and 147 activities, each requiring anywhere from one to ten pieces of evidence. Each piece of evidence is submitted electronically with a narrative explaining how it meets the requirements. The evidence ranges from documentation of specific compliance measures to details of broader activities focusing on local initiatives, community collaborations, and programs that address health priorities specific to the county. By measuring both state and local aspects of public health, accreditation provides a tool for leaders and staff to ensure that the public health needs of citizens are being met.

After the self-assessment submittal, a multidisciplinary team of peers conducts a site visit. Accreditation status is then determined by an independent accreditation board comprised of state and local public health officials, Board of Health members, county commissioners and public members.

“Being reaccredited makes official what we already know: our local health department does a great job serving our community,” stated Haywood County Health and Human Services Board Chairman Paul M. Turner Jr. “Our board was particularly proud that the accreditation visitors had high praise for the innovative opioid intervention work going on in Haywood County."

"They also identified the health department’s EpiGram, a quarterly epidemiological newsletter that goes out to medical providers, as a best practice that other health departments should consider implementing. It’s particularly gratifying during COVID-19 to know that our health department has recently been recognized for its communicable disease program.” Said Turner, Jr.

The N.C. Local Health Department Accreditation program is a collaboration of the North Carolina Institute for Public Health (part of the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors.

(For any questions regarding the N.C. Local Health Department Accreditation Process, contact: Amy Belflower Thomas, NCLHDA Administrator at NCIPH, 919-843-3973, amy.b.thomas@unc.edu.

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