GENEVA – The Kane County Health Department this month received national accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board, making it the first Illinois county to do so.
“We will have that forever,” Health Department Executive Director Barbara Jeffers said of earning the status first.
But, she told the Kane County Board’s Committee of the Whole this week, the health department must continue to strive for excellence in order to renew accreditation status, which expires after five years.
Described as the gold standard for health departments, accreditation is awarded to agencies after a rigorous, multifaceted, peer-reviewed process, which includes a site visit.
Members of the county’s Public Health Committee, including Melisa Taylor, R-Sugar Grove, participated in the accreditation process. Taylor said the trio spent a “significant amount of time” preparing.
“Our teacher taught us well,” she said. “You helped guide us all the way to the finish line. We would not have gotten this without you.”
Only 22 of the more than 3,000 public health departments nationwide have received accreditation status since the Public Health Accreditation Board launched the program in 2011. The Chicago Department of Public Health is the only other Illinois agency to have earned the honor.
Board member Brian Pollock, D-Aurora, said the accreditation board was impressed by county board members’ involvement in transportation and agriculture plans and by the partnership between staff, elected officials and the community.
“One of the things that the accreditation board found to be so important was that teamwork,” he said.
Achieving accreditation leads to several benefits, Jeffers said, listing increased credibility, accountability and possible funding advantages as examples.
“I think that it’s important we figure out how to deploy the benefits of this accreditation,” Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said, noting the importance of publicizing the achievement. “We’ve got to get that message out if we’re going to capitalize on civic pride.”