The Center for Public Health Practice (CPHP) at The Ohio State University College of Public Health has received two funding awards to provide accreditation support to Vinton County and the Delaware County Health Departments. The funding will also boost efforts to create an innovative regional Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) in southeastern Ohio.
“In an effort to improve the delivery of public health services in Ohio, local public health departments across the state are working hard to become accredited in a relatively new public health accreditation system,” said Dr. Andrew Wapner, CPHP director and clinical assistant faculty in the Division of Health Services, Management and Policy at CPH.
“Ohio is one of the most active states in the country regarding public health accreditation, with more than a dozen local health departments and the state health department reaching accreditation so far. The process of accreditation is difficult, however, and requires each agency to accomplish a number of significant organizational changes and community-based activities,” said Wapner, who is also funded by the OSU College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Department of Extension.
The Center for Public Health Practice received a $2,500 award from the Vinton County Health Department, focused on “Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) Facilitation.” With this award, the Center facilitated the Vinton County Health Department’s community health prioritization session.
This process, which ties the Community Health Assessment (CHA) with the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), calls for community stakeholders to gather together and select the most pressing community health priorities. CPHP uses a collaborative process that involves drafting a vision for the ideal future of the community and an extensive review of the CHA data to aid in priority selection. The stakeholders are asked to consider several factors when selecting priorities, including severity of the issue, alignment with state and national priorities and impact on vulnerable populations.
Following the prioritization session, the stakeholders will reconvene to create a CHIP, which lays out goals, objectives and strategies to improve those priorities. Vinton County will now join three other counties in Southeast Ohio (Athens, Perry and Hocking) in an innovative process to develop a regional CHIP so that the communities involved can better leverage resources to impact real change in underserved areas of Ohio.
“Identifying and prioritizing a community’s health issues and developing quality improvement processes are fundamental components of strong public health system,” said Dr. Wapner.
The Center also received a $4,700 award from the Delaware General Health District titled “QI Workshop” which will allow CPHP to help the Delaware County Health District simultaneously kick off four quality improvement (QI) projects. Areas of opportunity – problems where staff knows there is room for improvement but do not currently know the best solution – have been preselected, along with staff teams who will work together to solve the problem.
Prior to a full-day workshop facilitated by Center staff, all project team members will view the Center’s three-hour online course, Continuous Quality Improvement for Public Health: The Fundamentals, to establish a basic understanding of QI concepts and processes. Leaders from each team will meet by phone with Center staff to clearly articulate a problem statement and establish expectations for the workshop.
In the workshop, all teams will meet simultaneously to apply QI concepts to an interactive scenario before digging into their respective project work with guidance from Center staff. By the end of the day, teams will have a draft team charter that establishes a common understanding of the problem and expectations for the team, outlines the intended outcome of the project and anticipates potential challenges and parameters to solutions. A timeline will be created for each project.
Finally, teams will begin to analyze their respective problems using standard QI tools such as a flow chart or fishbone diagram. Project teams will then be well positioned to continue to problem solve and test solutions before implementing them organization-wide.
“Quality improvement is a critical piece an agency’s ability to solve problems and improve efficiency. Local public health agencies understand the importance of this work to continually improve the service they provide for their community,” said Dr. Wapner.
The Center for Public Health Practice at The Ohio State College of Public Health has been supporting local health departments in successfully achieving these accreditation milestones, and continues to be a leader nationally in accreditation support.