Hennepin County’s Public Health Department has become the first in the state to receive accreditation from a national board, largely because of its community outreach and consistently high level of care.

To earn accreditation from the national Public Health Accreditation Board, a partner of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, communities must have a Community Health Improvement Plan that identifies priorities and coordinates with hospitals, health systems, school districts, businesses and cultural, charitable and faith-based organizations.

The county becomes one of only 31 state and local health departments to receive the five-year endorsement from the board, which was created to track and ensure that local health departments provided consistent care, promoted good health and disease prevention.

The board announced the accreditation of Hennepin and eight other public health administrations on March 20.

Board President Kaye Bender called Hennepin and the others “role models” for public health because of a “commitment to ongoing performance management and quality improvement.”

The national program was launched fall 2011 after 10 years in development. The board oversees more than 3,000 public health departments nationwide. To receive accreditation, a department undergoes a multifaceted peer review process to determine whether it meets or exceeds standards.

Among the accomplishments Hennepin County submitted:

• The public health clinic increased sliding-fee scale collections by 17 percent, while the public health promotion division increased by 55 percent the number of physical activity and nutrition assessments of high-risk nursing home clients.

• The county’s mental health center eliminated a 40 percent no-show rate for medication management appointments.

• The environmental health staff reduced the response times to foodborne and waterborne illness outbreaks by 25 percent.

• Health Care for Homeless clinics increased the number of patient health care visits per hour by 50 percent.

• Public health emergency preparation established protocol to conduct an initial briefing 30 minutes after the first notification of an emergency.


Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747