Delaware Division of Public Health receives national accreditation

Secretary of Delaware Health and Social Services, Rita Landgraf shows Gov. Jack Markell the cake that celebrates Delaware’s Public Health national accreditation at the Jesse Cooper building in Dover on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Secretary of Delaware Health and Social Services, Rita Landgraf shows Gov. Jack Markell the cake that celebrates Delaware’s Public Health national accreditation at the Jesse Cooper building in Dover on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Delaware’s Division of Public Health celebrated getting its stamp of approval from the Public Health Accreditation Board with the hanging of a banner and slicing of a cake Wednesday.

“We chose to go for the accreditation because the process of applying is a vehicle to ensure we are doing the important work that needs to be done to best serve the residents of Delaware,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health.

Completing the 300-documents accreditation application required the division to take a good look at itself — something not done previously.

Data was sifted, community input was received, a strategic plan was developed and after the collection of necessary documents, the division finally was considered for accreditation.

“We embraced all of the information we collected and it took a long time to get to this point but it was so worth it,” Dr. Rattay said. “We were able to determine we were using the appropriate strategies, properly tracking our priorities and that we had the right policies and processes in place.”

But scrounging up all the information to earn the accreditation didn’t happen overnight. It took seven years and was spurred by the H1N1 flu and its presence in Delaware.

“I remember that H1N1 press conference,” Gov. Jack Markell said. “That was at the start of my administration and I’ve never been to a press conference with so many cameras since. It was very serious. And we’ve dealt with so many other things that the Division of Public Health deals with every single day.”

Dr. Rattay said it’s important given the economic times that the division be strategic, have the right priorities and use its resources wisely to handle not just day-to-day public health issues but also health crises.

“New things are coming all the time that we need to be prepared for,” said Rita Landgraf, secretary of Delaware Health and Social Services. “It started out with H1N1, then there was Ebola and now Zika.”

The accreditation is valid for five years, so the division must reapply in 2021, going through the entire internal review process once more.

“We are planning on applying again because it’s important for us to continue the process of improving and implementing new measures and meeting the highest standards so we can provide the best services to Delawareans,” Dr. Rattay said. “The accreditation we announced today didn’t end the journey of improvement, it simply allowed us to press the pause button for a moment.”

Aside from internal improvements, the accreditation places Delaware’s Division of Public Health among an elite group of only 19 states and territories that have met the same requirements.

In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified accreditation as a key component in improving public health infrastructure and holding state health departments to the highest standards.

More information about the Public Health Accreditation Board and the requirement for accreditation can be found at phaboard.org.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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