Summit County’s health department recently became one of the first agencies in the country to meet national standards as part of a new voluntary accreditation program.
Summit County Public Health is the first health department in the state to earn five-year accreditation status from the Public Health Accreditation Board.
Agencies undergo an in-depth review and site visit to make sure they meet national standards for providing public health services to achieve the designation.
“We’re very excited,” Summit County Health Commissioner Gene Nixon said. “The process made us stronger.”
Public health departments provide a wide range of services to promote healthful behaviors among residents, prevent diseases and injuries and ensure food and water safety and clean air.
Before the accreditation board recently began establishing standards and reviewing health departments, no national standards existed to measure how well those services were offered, Nixon said.
“It created a national standard for the over 3,000 government health departments throughout the county,” Nixon said. “It not only identifies that we’ve met certain standards, it also identifies areas that need improvement. It’s a quality-improvement process.”
Summit County Public Health has been committed to obtaining the national accreditation since shortly after the county agency merged with the Akron Health Department in January 2011, Nixon said. The Barberton health department merged with Summit the previous year.
“Applying for accreditation was the first of many bold, leading-edge endeavors taken on successfully by Summit County Public Health as a consolidated entity,” Jon A. Fiume, president of the Akron Health Commission, said in an email. “… All the residents of Summit County will continue to reap the high-quality public health benefits and services that an organization such as Summit County Public Health provides.”
The Summit County health department met or exceeded about 90 percent of the national standards, Nixon said. The agency plans to improve its efforts in the area of formalized research policies and procedures.
Summit County Public Health paid an application fee of $31,802 to apply for the accreditation.
American adolescents aren’t meeting recommendations for physical activity and healthful diets, according to a new study recently released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Only about half of U.S. youth ages 11 to 16 report being physically active five days or more each week, according to a survey of nearly 10,000 students in 39 states conducted by NIH researchers.
The news about adolescents’ food choices is even worse.
Fewer than one-third said they eat fruit and vegetables daily, according to the researchers.
“The students showed a surprising variability in eating patterns,” lead author Ronald J. Iannotti of the Prevention Research Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said in a news release. “But most — about 74 percent — did not have a healthy pattern.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children and adolescents should get at least one hour or more of aerobic physical activity daily. The guidelines recommend they participate in vigorous intensity physical activity at least three days each week.
The guidelines are available online at www.health.gov/paguidelines.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.