05/25/09 — Wayne County Health Department accredited

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Wayne County Health Department accredited

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 25, 2009 2:04 PM

After months of complying with documentation, inspections and scrutiny by the state, Wayne County Health Department has been accredited.

The status will be conferred by the N.C. Local Health Department Accreditation Board in Raleigh on July 17, Evelyn Coley, director of nursing and accreditation coordinator for the Wayne County Health Department, told the Board of Health last week. The process was voluntary, but in 2013 will become mandatory for all health departments across the state, she added.

The Health Department passed all but one of its 41 benchmarks and 148 activities, she said. The only unmet activity dealt with lack of proper "no smoking" signage at some of the department locations.

Months of preparation and efforts culminated in a recent three-day team site visit, Mrs.Coley said, which included an inspection of the facility and a spate of interviews with community partners, staff, Board of Health and the county manager.

"The focus was on the capacity to perform the 10 essential public health services and perform basic core functions," she said. The Health Department's role is to "link people to needed personal services" and assure the provision of health services when otherwise unavailable.

Among comments elicited by the inspection team, she said, were that the Health Department exhibited good use of signage -- anywhere there was a notice in English, a like sign was posted in Spanish, she said -- and an inviting stairwell that "encouraged activity" complete with a fresh coat of paint and piped-in music. It was also noted as a safe and secure building, she added.

Other notations indicated the department was well organized, the staff well-informed and customer-friendly, and possessed a "high level of commitment to public health,' Mrs. Coley said.

There were also a few suggestions for improvement, she noted.

"They're not mandatory but may help us in the next four years when we go for re-accreditation," she said. These included enhanced staff training on policies and procedures, including training on privacy laws, and addressing the growing minority population in Wayne County.

Having facilities accessible to clients with physical disabilities as well as those with limited proficiency in English are being addressed, the report said, with special commendation made for the satellite WIC (Women, Infant and Children) clinic in Mount Olive, Mrs. Coley said.

"The only suggestion made was to make the location more identifiable with signage out front, more accessible for clients with disabilities and safer for clients with children," she said.

All told, it was an exciting outcome for all the staff and agencies that had collaborated to bring the accreditation to fruition, Mrs.Coley said.

"We are here for the total community," she said. "We are very proud ... a lot of work went into this, and we did it."