Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pyle: Board of health must shift focus to community health

By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
The Christian County Board of Health needs to spend less time on the health department’s budget and more time addressing big questions of community health, said Health Department Director Mark Pyle.
Pyle announced this opinion in a presentation Monday night that closed the board’s quarterly meeting.
For the board members, this will mean informing themselves better about the community’s health needs beyond the department’s doors, he said. He plans to discuss this in more specific terms at the next meeting Nov. 19.
“How many of you, when you signed up for the board of health, thought that the only thing that you would do when you came to a board meeting would be talk about money?” he asked the board. No hands went up. “If you haven’t noticed, the past four years, we haven’t talked about a lot of health issues. That’s going to change.”
This change goes hand-in-hand with the department’s plan to apply for accreditation next year. Preparing for accreditation since 2010 has fundamentally changed the way department staff view their jobs — and the way Pyle views the department’s role in the community.
A nonprofit organization, the Public Health Accreditation Board, will evaluate the Christian County Health Department on many areas related to its community engagement. These include whether or not the department is improving public access to health care and whether it’s educating the public. The department must also produce a strategic plan, a health assessment and a health improvement plan.
The Christian County Health Department has already finished its strategic plan, said Laura Hammons, the assistant public health director. Its assessment of the community’s health is nearly finished, and its plan for improving community health will follow, Pyle said.
The department will apply for accreditation in the final quarter of 2013 and likely receive it in 2014, Hammons said.
By 2020, all county health departments in Kentucky must gain accreditation, according to a new state law. But Pyle and Hammons started this process long before the General Assembly made this decision.
Two factors motivated the department to seek accreditation, Pyle said: Accreditation will likely open new revenue streams, and it also presented an effective, focused way of improving the department’s overall quality.
Staff members have adopted standard operating procedures in every area — clinical services, accounting, human resources. They now take minutes at every staff meeting and make the minute widely available. They have to thoroughly document every stride they take toward improvement so they can prove those efforts to an accreditation committee.
Accreditation is also pushing the department away from a “silo” model in which it only worries about its own affairs, Hammons said. The department needs to help build a “community health system” that involves Red Cross, the YMCA, Hopkinsville-Christian County Emergency Medical Services, Pennyroyal Mental Health, Jennie Stuart Medical Center and every other local organization involved with health issues, Pyle said.
Pyle has created a committee that to determine the future of St. Luke Free Clinic, and the committee’s diversity reflects this new approach, he said.
However, the accreditation board will also want to interview members of the Christian County Board of Health, Pyle said. For this reason, it’s crucial that board members get on the bandwagon, he said.
Pyle mentioned a recent editorial in the New Era that urged the board to meet on a monthly basis. Pyle doesn’t think this is necessary. But its quarterly meetings will focus more on the 10 essential health services at the core of its mission, he said. These include eliminating health hazards, enforcing laws and regulations that support health, and assuring a competent public and personal health-care workforce.
way department staff view their jobs — and the way Pyle views the department’s role in the community.
A nonprofit organization, the Public Health Accreditation Board, will evaluate the Christian County Health Department on many areas related to its community engagement. These include whether or not the department is improving public access to health care and whether it’s educating the public. The department must also produce a strategic plan, a health assessment and a health improvement plan.
The Christian County Health Department has already finished its strategic plan, said Laura Hammons, the assistant public health director. Its assessment of the community’s health is nearly finished, and its plan for improving community health will follow, Pyle said.
The department will apply for accreditation in the final quarter of 2013 and likely receive it in 2014, Hammons said.
By 2020, all county health departments in Kentucky must gain accreditation, according to a new state law. But Pyle and Hammons started this process long before the General Assembly made this decision.
Two factors motivated the department to seek accreditation, Pyle said: Accreditation will likely open new revenue streams, and it also presented an effective, focused way of improving the department’s overall quality.
Staff members have adopted standard operating procedures in every area — clinical services, accounting, human resources. They now take minutes at every staff meeting and make the minutes widely available. They have to thoroughly document every stride they take toward improvement so they can prove those efforts to an accreditation committee.
Accreditation is also pushing the department away from a “silo” model in which it only worries about its own affairs, Hammons said. The department needs to help build a “community health system” that involves Red Cross, the YMCA, Hopkinsville-Christian County Emergency Medical Services, Pennyroyal Mental Health, Jennie Stuart Medical Center and every other local organization involved with health issues, Pyle said.
Pyle has created a committee to determine the future of St. Luke’s Free Clinic, and the committee’s diversity reflects this new approach, he said.
However, the accreditation board will also want to interview members of the Christian County Board of Health, Pyle said. For this reason, it’s crucial that board members get on the bandwagon, he said.
Pyle mentioned a recent editorial in the New Era that urged the board to meet on a monthly basis. Pyle doesn’t think this is necessary. But its quarterly meetings will focus more on the 10 essential health services at the core of its mission, he said. These include eliminating health hazards, enforcing laws and regulations that support health, and assuring a competent public and personal health-care workforce.

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