Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services Awarded Accreditation with Honors Designation
On Friday, May 10th, the North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation Board officially announced that the Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services – Public Health Division would be receiving full Accreditation with Honors status. The agency’s accreditation is valid for four years, at which point it will undergo the process again. This is the fourth consecutive time Gaston DHHS (and previously the Gaston County Health Department) has been accredited by the board since its first assessment in 2007, and the first “With Honors” designation. This honorary designation was implemented for the first time in the fall of 2017 to recognize agencies that especially excelled in their accreditation assessment by missing one or less activities within each of five standards set by the NCLHDA program.
Accreditation is a lengthy process that consists of an exhaustive self-assessment by health department staff and a thorough site visit by a team of public health professionals from around the state. These teams review records and operating procedures at each health department they visit. The North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation Board determines whether a local health department will be accredited based on the report and recommendation of the site visit team.
“Gaston DHHS is honored to be one of the counties receiving this highest designation,” shared Steve Eaton, Gaston DHHS’s Public Health Director. “It is important to us that we not only meet standards, but go above and beyond to bring high quality, effective, and innovative services to our residents. We could not do this without our excellent staff and community partners and we look forward to even greater accomplishments in the future.”
“I’m incredibly proud to see Gaston County recognized as a top department in the state,” added Chris Dobbins, who serves as Gaston DHHS’s Director and also Chair of the State’s Accreditation Board. “I know how hard counties work to attain this highest honor and while I had no doubts of our ability to excel, I am happy to see it reflected in the “Accreditation With Honors’ designation.”
North Carolina is the first state in the country to mandate accreditation for its local health departments. The purpose of the accreditation program is to assure a basic level of capacity and services in each of the local health departments across the state.
“All of the agencies recently achieving reaccreditation have much to be proud of. They have not only demonstrated their ability to meet a set of important performance standards, but excelled in many areas. Through reaccreditation, these agencies demonstrate a strong commitment to continuously work to improve the quality of services provided to their respective communities,” comments Amy Belflower Thomas, NC Local Health Department Accreditation Administrator.
The NC Local Health Department Accreditation program is a collaboration of the North Carolina Institute for Public Health (part of the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors.