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New Federal Funds Can Help Set the Stage for Long-term Public Health Improvement and Support

Date: 8/20/2021 12:00 PM

Related Categories: Performance Management, Quality Improvement

Topic: Infrastructure, Performance Management and Quality Improvement

Tag: Accreditation, Infrastructure, Performance Improvement, Performance Management, Quality Improvement

Author: Ron Bialek

​Paul Kuehnert, President and CEO, Public Health Accreditation Board 

Ron Bialek, President and CEO, Public Health Foundation

First, the good news. Billions of federal government dollars are being invested for enhancing and rebuilding public health infrastructure at the state, Tribal, local, and territorial levels. Now, the bad news. Much of the new funding has to be spent fairly rapidly – for the most part, somewhere between one and three years. What can a health department do now that will build a foundation to support improvement of the agency’s overall performance and garner longer-term public and political support?

Invest in Your Agency, to Invest in Your Community 
Based on the experiences of the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) and the Public Health Foundation​ (PHF), we see tremendous benefit in investing in and building health departments’ infrastructure, including quality improvement (QI) capacity, capability, and confidence. The health department becomes more responsive to evolving community needs, increases its transparency and accountability, forms lasting partnerships with stakeholders, and garners greater support and trust from the public and policymakers. For the most part, the new federal funds can be used to recruit, train, and retrain staff; implement QI projects, processes and systems; and meet national standards through PHAB accreditation. 

Why QI and Accreditation Now?
The communities served by health departments benefit from a strong continuously improving governmental public health department. Using available federal funds to shore up health department performance will have a long-term positive impact on communities as well as health department employee morale – something sorely needed as frontline public health workers report high levels of stress and burn-out as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Actions You Can Take Now Using New Federal Funding!1 
We encourage all health departments to use some portion of the new federal funds to assess, build, and sustain the capacity of your department to continuously improve its performance and to meet national public health accreditation standards. Concrete action steps include:
  • Enhance your agency’s QI and performance management capability and confidence – engage in QI and performance management “tune-up” training; provide QI and performance management training to new staff; and expand expertise with more advanced training
  • Determine your specific staffing needs for performance management and QI, including support for an Accreditation Coordinator 
  • Demonstrate your health department’s commitment to quality and performance improvement through PHAB accreditation – use funding to pay required fees and any related direct costs for becoming accredited or reaccredited
PHAB and PHF are committed to assisting health departments in their efforts to continuously improve, gain trust and support from the public and policymakers, and improve the public’s health. We are available to answer your questions and provide guidance. Please reach out to us:
  • To discuss PHAB accreditation, contact Paul Kuehnert, President and CEO, Public Health Accreditation Board; pkuehnert@phaboard.org, (703) 778-4549, ext. 103​
  • To discuss QI and performance training, contact Ron Bialek, President and CEO, Public Health Foundation; rbialek@phf.org, (202) 218-4420
1Always review the specific CDC Notice of Funding Opportunity and related FAQs, or call your project officer, for guidance on specific uses of federal funds.

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