Local health board seeks to keep national accreditation

Frank Denzler | Rushville RepublicanEarlier this week, county EMA Director Chuck Kemker (left) was announced by county health department office manager and environmentalist Julia Apple (right) as the new Grant Preparedness Coordinator for the RCHD.

During a Monday’s county commissioner meeting, county health department office manager and environmentalist Julia Apple said her department is currently working on recertification through Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).

“This (maintaining and obtaining recertification) is a very important goal. The process is and will continue to be a collaborative effort. We are working in the office to cross-train employees in multiple areas as a means to keep all of the momentum in this and others areas in moving and looking forward,” Apple said.

It is important to note that in June of 2016, Rush County, the 15th smallest of Indiana’s 92 counties, became the first in Indiana to receive national PHAB accreditation. The lengthy process to gain that distinction was undertaken in 2005 by then county health board director Dr. Davis Ellis (deceased) and took nearly 11-years to compete.

The certification includes a rigorous assessment process that ensures the county meets or exceeds 12 domains of public health quality standards: county health assessments, disease surveillance and investigation, health education, policy development, emergency response planning, workforce development, quality improvement and health department management and administration to name a few.

In 2016, Rush County became one of 17 state and local governmental public health departments nationwide to earn the PHAB accreditation. Since that time, only one other Hoosier county has obtained that distinction.

Throughout the initial lengthy process to gain PHAB accreditation, the Rush County Health Board worked closely with Cindy Stone, Dr.P.H., R.N., Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the IU Richard Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

According to Apple, as a means to maintain the county’s certification and to save Rush County a substantial amount of funding, current class members in Dr. Stone’s class will work closely with the local health department in the coming weeks as a class project to meet Rush County’s national recertification needs.

During Monday’s meeting, Apple also announced her department has hired County EMA Director Chuck Kemker as Grant Preparedness Coordinator to facilitate procuring future grant monies as they are made available for the county health department to utilize.

Contact: frank.denzler@rushvillerepublican.com or (765) 932 – 2222 x106.