The four communities in the NorthWest Public Health Coalition (Westford, Lowell, Acton, and Dracut) were awarded a grant by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as part of the Public Health Excellence Grant Program for Shared Services. This grant will support the communities of Westford and Lowell, and their respective health departments, in beginning the multi-year PHAB accreditation process. Thus far, only three local health departments in Massachusetts have achieved PHAB accreditation. In taking steps forward to join this prestigious group, the Westford Health Department demonstrates their commitment to enhancing the health and wellness of all residents. This is a clear indication that Westford continues to be a leading and innovative health department in the state.
Rae Dick, Westford’s Health Director, is eager to begin the PHAB accreditation process. She says, “The prospect of launching this process amid the pandemic was a bit daunting. Yet, now more than ever, we are aware that the health of the community is critical to the health of society. We decided it is critical to take this ambitious leap to continue down a path focused on improving the health of the Westford community.”
The national accreditation program, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards against which health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. A health department must undergo a rigorous, multi-faceted, peer-reviewed assessment process to certify it meets or exceeds a set of quality standards and measures to receive accreditation. As of November 2021, a total of 289 local health departments nationally have achieved five-year accreditation through PHAB.
The goal of accreditation is to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of public health departments. Furthermore, accreditation benefits include quality and performance improvement, increased capacity to respond to public health threats and emergencies, and strengthened relationships with key partners to better serve the community.
While led by the health department, the accreditation process is multi-disciplinary and requires the engagement of the entire community. Westford’s Board of Health Chair, Stephanie Granger and the Westford Town Manager, Jodi Ross both stated, “I am in full support of the Westford Health Department beginning the PHAB accreditation process”.
For more information about accreditation, please visit the PHAB website at www.phaboard.org.