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Public health accreditation standards promulgated by the Public Health Accreditation Board have been announced. Accreditation will advance quality and performance of state and local health departments. States and counties across the nation are preparing to apply for accreditation, but many lack the staff capacity and technical expertise to conduct the required community health assessments on their own. In Oregon, this challenge is felt in many counties around the state, at a time when resources are precious, and when there is a complementary strong drive to incorporate public health into Oregon’s comprehensive health reform endeavor. This LL Stewart supported project is designed to assist Oregon counties moving toward accreditation by providing technical and other assistance as they conduct community health assessments, identify areas for public health improvement, and develop strategic plans to achieve public health goals. The project provides technical assistance to 4-6 Oregon local health departments to conduct a community health assessment in support of local health department accreditation. Health assessments are collaborations driven by community needs—nevertheless, we expect that all of the projects will address health disparities by assessing either minority or rural health needs. The Conference of Local Health Officials (CLHO) will assist in identifying counties interested and ready to participate in the project. Working with its county OSU Extension office, each LHD will convene community stakeholders to prepare a plan for completing a community health assessment. OSU faculty and MPH students will provide technical assistance during the planning, conduct, analysis, and reporting phases of the assessment. Results of each health needs assessment will be translated into a policy recommendation and presented for consideration to County Commissioners, who in Oregon make health policy as local boards of health. The project will establish a new model for inter-agency cooperation which will improve efficiency among county, state and federal public health and human service programs. It will lay the groundwork for developing the public health practice focus of the emerging College of Public Health and Human Sciences, which will work in tandem with already established OSU Extension programs. By increasing public health capacity, this LL Stewart supported project seeks to improve public health for all Oregonians.
Viktor E. Bovbjerg, PhD MPH, is an Associate Professor in the Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and a Core Director for the OSU Center for Healthy Aging Research. His research focuses on prevention and control of chronic disease, in particular the translation of evidence-based, cost-effective, and sustainable interventions into clinical and public health practice. Areas of active research include diabetes and cardiovascular disease, women's health, sickle cell disease, medical and surgical outcomes, injury prevention, and social and behavioral influences on health and healthcare outcomes.