Public Health Accreditation Board Newsletter
Board and Governance
Partner Organizations



1600 Duke Street
Suite 440
Alexandria, VA 22314

September 2008


It is my privilege as Interim Executive Director to inform you of PHAB activities in this past month.  We have significant developments to report.

William Riley, PhD, Interim Executive Director

New Board Leadership

PHAB is pleased to announce new leadership for our Board of Directors:
Kaye Bender, RN, PhD, FAAN, has been elected President of PHAB.  Dr. Bender is the Professor and Dean, School of Nursing and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Dr. Bender was the Chair of the Exploring Accreditation Steering Committee. In addition to being an active PHAB Board member, she has been engaged in the work of PHAB as the Co-chair of PHAB's Standards and Accreditation Activities and Review Committee and as chair the Equivalency Recognition Workgroup.

Paul K. Halverson, DrPH, MHSA, FACHE, has been elected the President-elect of the PHAB Board.  Dr. Halverson serves as Director of the Arkansas Department of Health and State Health Officer. He has a history of working to strengthen the effectiveness of public health systems. While at the CDC, Dr. Halverson led the development and implementation of the National Public Health Performance Standards Program.

Edward Harrison, MBA, has been elected to be PHAB's Vice President. Mr. Harrison is the President of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. For over thirty years NCCHC has been the leading provider of standards and independent accreditation of correctional health services. In addition to being an active PHAB Board member, he has been engaged in the work of PHAB as the Co-chair of PHAB's Standards and Accreditation Activities and Review Committee and as chair the Standards Development Workgroup.

Marie Fallon, MHSA, is PHAB's Past-President.  Ms. Fallon served as a member of PHAB's Board of Incorporators and as President of the Board of Directors.  She is the Executive Director of the National Association of Local Boards of Health.  NALBOH is the only organization in America dedicated to preparing and strengthening boards of health, empowering them to promote and protect the health of their communities.

Change in Staffing at PHAB

Albert C. Gray, Ph.D., CAE has submitted his resignation as Executive Director of the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), effective August 25, 2008. He will return to the field of environmental engineering -- the field to which he has dedicated the majority of his career. Dr. Gray helped establish PHAB as a new, non-profit entity and built the organization's infrastructure.  The Board of Directors thanks Dr. Gray for his contributions to advancing quality and performance improvement for governmental public health departments and wishes him well in his future endeavors.

The Board of Directors has appointed William Riley, Ph.D., Associate Dean, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, to serve as the Interim Executive Director of PHAB.  Dr. Riley was appointed to the PHAB Board of Directors in July 2007 and serves as the Chair of PHAB's Research and Evaluation Committee.  Dr. Riley has held the position of president and CEO of several health care organizations, including Pacific Medical Center in Seattle, Aspen Medical Group in Minnesota and a health plan joint venture of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota. Dr. Riley brings a strong commitment to public health and quality improvement to PHAB and will strengthen the momentum of during this interim period. The Board of Directors and Dr. Riley and will begin a search to find a successor in the near future.


THE VETTING PROCESS:  Sharing Standards and Measures with the Public Health Community for Formal and Informal Feedback and Comment In Order to Improve Them.

We know the field is anxious for the unveiling of the draft standards and measures on which the PHAB Standards Development Workgroup has worked so hard. PHAB's timeline for testing the standards and measures, including vetting, will be published, and shortly thereafter, the Standards and Measures themselves.  I hope you will then all share discussion, written and online feedback with us.
Although originally scheduled to begin August 1, the additional time we are taking with the Board, Committees and Workgroups, and the additional formal reviews, are an effort to insure that the accreditation process will employ flexible standards, measures and scoring to accommodate different types of health department structures - centralized, mixed and decentralized states and territories, as well as tribal health departments, and also departments where there is a fair amount of contracting out for public health service delivery.  The focus is on keeping the standards and measures simple, without redundancy. Importantly, the standards and measures are being reviewed for "real world" applicability with the objective of advancing the collective practice.

EQUIVALENCY:  How to Recognize and Align PHAB with State-based Accreditation Programs.

The Equivalency Recognition Workgroup has submitted a comprehensive report to the PHAB Board of Directors on August 22 for their consideration. The report addresses guiding principles, eligibility criteria, and the application and review process for equivalency recognition. The Board will consider the report.

STANDARDS DEVELOPMENT:  Developing the Domains, Standards and Measures, Which, When Met, Demonstrate an Accreditable Health Department.

The Standards Development Workgroup is continuing to work on guidelines for documentation to demonstrate how standards and measures will be met, as well as develop a scoring and weighting model for use during assessment of health departments that are candidates for accreditation.  

RESEARCH AND EVALUATION:  What accreditation-related research should be conducted and how should the program be evaluated for continued improvement?

The Research and Evaluation Committee met on August 27 and 28.  They reviewed the standards and measures and will submit their questions and suggestions to the Board for their use in their review of the standards and measures.
The Committee began the thoughtful work of developing a short- and long-term evaluation agenda for PHAB. They are developing recommendations for a phased process for testing the standards and measures for implementation in 2011. They also began to discuss the elements of a research agenda.

Board and Governance:

The PHAB Board met on August 21 to begin strategic planning. They began the development of a formal vision and mission statement. The Board considered issues such as quality improvement, visibility, and value.
The Board held its annual meeting on August 22.  They elected new officers, formed a bylaws committee, and heard reports on standards development, equivalency recognition, and research and evaluation. The Board commended Kaye Bender for her leadership as chair of the Equivalency Recognition Workgroup and Ed Harrison for leadership as chair of the Standards Development Workgroup. Both workgroups have accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time.
The Equivalency group has provided their final recommendations to the Board.  The Standards Work Group has honed information from state accreditation programs, two associations and other quality improvement programs to develop a practical and succinct draft set of guidelines for voluntary national accreditation. The Board met by teleconference on September 19.  Discussion surrounded operations updates, board committee assignments, the alpha test and vetting as well as Committee reports.

Partner Organizations:

While PHAB is an independent undertaking, our partner organizations, APHA, ASTHO, NACCHO, NALBOH, NNPHI and PHF, and our funding partners, CDC, and RWJF provide us with valuable input as we develop both content and process for voluntary national accreditation.  Thank you all.

APHA is hosting its 136th Annual Meeting & Exposition to take place at the San Diego Convention Center in California October 25-29, 2008. The APHA Annual Meeting - the oldest and largest gathering of public health professionals in the world - will draw some 13,000 public health practitioners and 600 exhibitors. This year's theme is "Public Health Without Borders" and  sessions will cover a diversity of topics, including immigrant and refugee health; water and land rights; coordinating disease surveillance and epidemiologic response activities across borders; air and water pollution management across borders; and the international transmission of socio-cultural behaviors with adverse health implications. For more information visit
NALBOH Governing bodies, boards of health and public health governmental entities are becoming more and more interested and engaged in quality improvement activities, and are eager to play a significant role in the accreditation process.

Currently there are several quality improvement activities going on:
  • Franklin Regional Council of Governments in Western    Massachusetts is working with 10 boards of health to implement quality improvement activities; 
  • The North Dakota Department of Health is working with their Medical Epidemiologist to identify priority areas from the National Public Health Performance Standards governance assessment to address quality improvement activities for district boards of health in North Dakota;
  • Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders' Council is also in the process of using the data from the National Public Health Performance Standards governance assessment to address quality improvement at the tribal level.

Dr. Judy Monroe Elected President of ASTHO. Dr. Paul Halverson new President-Elect
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey Gives Keynote at ASTHO-NACCHO Joint Meeting

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), delivered the keynote speech at the ASTHO-NACCHO Joint Conference in Sacramento on Sept. 10. Speaking to the general theme of the conference, "Becoming the Healthiest Nation in a Healthier World," Lavizzo-Mourey said that a healthier America can be achieved by establishing a "new public health" that thrives on partnerships and that is "firmly set on a fresh foundation of accreditation, quality improvement, performance standards, advocacy, and a relentless reliance on research and evidence." She called on public health leaders to demonstrate the value of their work by showing decision-makers tangible, measurable results-the return on the public's investment.

Congratulations on a great meeting! See you next year in Vienna, VA on October 7 2009.

NNPHI - MLC Update
16 States Gather in Minneapolis, Take First Step Toward National Accreditation
On August 6th 120 public health officials from the 16 states participating in the Multi-State Learning Collaborative III: Lead States in Public Health Quality Improvement, gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 3 days to kick-off the 3-year project.  Representatives from Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin gathered with national partner organizations (ASTHO, NACCHO, NALBOH, CDC, RWJF, PHF, and PHAB) to share their plans for implementing quality improvement and preparing for national accreditation.   Participating states will continue this collaboration over the next three years when they will then apply for national accreditation or seek recognition from the national accreditation program.

During the meeting, participants discussed strategies they will employ to improve quality in 9 specific public health areas (Development of a Community Health Profile, Assure a Competent Workforce, Customer Service, Reduce the Incidence of Vaccine Preventable Disease, Reduce Preventable Risk Factors that Predispose to Chronic Disease, Reducing Infant Mortality, Reducing the Burden of Tobacco-Related Illness, and Reduce the Burden of Alcohol-Related Disease and Injury).   Additionally, participants engaged in an in-depth communications training.  Participants learned how to identify audiences, key messages and best practices on how to effectively reach target audiences.  Over the next several months, NNPHI staff and consultants, national partner organizations, and participating state representatives will visit all 16 states to observe the innovative work being conducted and glean key lessons that can be shared as the national accreditation program moves forward.
To learn more about the project and view materials from the meeting, please visit

The Astho-Naccho 2008 Joint Conference - the year's largest gathering of state and local officials - drew 1,200 enthusiastic attendees to Sacramento, CA. Focused on the theme "Becoming the Healthiest Nation in a Healthier World," the conference included over 50 concurrent sessions, more than 70 poster presentations 100+ exhibit displays, and numerous meetings, receptions, and networking opportunities.  See you next year in Orlando, July 29-31. Congratulations on a great conference!

The Public Health Foundation (PHF) Board of Directors recently adopted a Policy Statement calling on PHAB to "adopt measurable health outcome standards for all health departments applying for accreditation."  PHF believes that the knowledge exists to adopt health outcomes standards and that policy makers are demanding this level of accountability from our nation's health departments.  To read PHF's Policy Statement, "Improving The Health of Our Communities," please visit

And, as always, if you have any questions about PHAB or comments and suggestions, please feel free to contact us. Thank you for your interest and support of national public health accreditation. This is our fourth issue in our new format.  We continue to encourage you to ask your colleagues to sign up on our web site
I wish you all the best. Enjoy the end of summer!      

William Riley, PhD
PHAB Board member, Interim Executive Director
1600 Duke Street, Suite 440
Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone - 703 778 4549  
FAX - 703 778 4556