Irwin Army Community Hospital's Department of Public Health is leading the way in meeting national standards set for public health departments, forging process improvements and enhancing preventive care and wellness initiatives in Army Medicine. To demonstrate its provision of high-quality public health services to Fort Riley Soldiers, families, retirees and Department of the Army civilians and its alignment with the community standard of public health practice in Kansas, DPH has joined the 275 public health departments across the country that are pursuing voluntary national public health department accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board.

Launched in September 2011 in response to an identified need for national public health department performance standards, PHAB is the only organization of its kind for governmental public health departments. A true innovator within Army Medicine, Fort Riley's DPH is the first known Army and military preventive medicine department to formally indicate intent to apply to PHAB.

Working closely with its staff, on-post partners, neighboring local health departments, the state health department and U.S. Army Public Health Command, the DPH aims to achieve PHAB accreditation by 2015.

The DPH accreditation team is excited to achieve this goal not only for Fort Riley; the team hopes that their journey will be useful to other Army public health entities interested in this endeavor to benefit their own communities. USAPHC plans to support this pursuit of accreditation and is also formally evaluating the effort to better understand pursuit of PHAB accreditation as a performance improvement strategy in an Army setting.

According to the U.S. Army Public Health Command lead program evaluator, who recently visited Fort Riley's DPH, "Achieving this is not easy, but it is meaningful in our profession. We were here from the U.S. Army Public Health Command to learn about how Fort Riley is doing this and what the advantages and disadvantages of this action may be. What we learned here will help us all better understand how this accreditation program works in Army settings. Fort Riley's public health professionals should be proud to be leaders in building Army public health's professional reputation."

USAPHC is also assisting the DPH and the installation Community Health Promotion Council in synchronizing similar efforts. Working to fulfill national public health department performance standards in Army settings is well-aligned with the following Army Medicine 2020 Campaign tasks: Create a System for Health, Strengthen Partnerships and Relationships, Establish Operating Company Methodology, and Change the Conversation from health care to health.

(Reprinted from the 1st Infantry Division Post Newspaper, Fort Riley, Kan.)