Paradigm Shift: From Department of Preventive Medicine to JBLE-Eustis Department of Public Health

By Major Thierry FouaponJuly 2, 2020

MCDONALD ARMY HEALTH CENTER, Fort Eustis, Va.--The military health system launched the Army Public Health Performance improvement and accreditation initiative in 2018 in response to a call for improved quality and consistency in public health. The program designed to continuously assess military public health departments against national standards and ensuring essential public health services are provided in their communities.

As public health continues to be dynamic, accreditation is a significant initiative in public health. Started in 2011 by the Public Health Accreditation Board, the voluntary national accreditation program for public health departments has accredited 268 civilian health departments, one integrated public health system, and one army health department in 45 states and the District of Columbia as of June 2019, representing public health coverage for more than 79% of the U.S population.

An essential step for military public health departments was the name change. McDonald Army Health Center (MCAHC) Department of Preventive Medicine became the JBLE-Eustis Department of Public Health (JBLE-Eustis DPH) in 2019. .With a new logo to embrace everything that public health accomplishes and communicates, it identifies JBLE-Eustis DPH as both a guardian and responder for more than 30,000 members of its community.

The JBLE-Eustis DPH staff is engaged in the challenging accreditation journey to effectively prevent, promote, and protect, thus demonstrating a commitment to improving their performance continuously.

"The accreditation has given me a clear view of how the Department of Public Health should function. We have focused on areas of the military treatment facility (MTF) that I wasn't familiar with beforehand. Still, we feel quite comfortable with the support and relationship that other MTF's have provided to DPH. Proper documentation has played a huge part in how we function and update our documents." said Pamela Springer, Army Public Health Nursing Secretary.

JBLE-Eustis DPH's accreditation process is associated with several significant organizational and operational benefits. These include the increased collaboration of the DPH with other MCAHC Departments and health agencies and increased visibility and public awareness of military public health, leading to greater public trust and more robust community support.

Talking about the benefits, John Hogue, Industrial Hygiene Technician with the JBLE-Eustis DPH, says, "I now have a better understanding of how what we do affects others within DPH and the MEDDAC. I've had to interact with others in the organization, and I now know who to contact when I have certain issues outside of DPH. I have improved my computer skills because I had to learn new programs and was taught new tricks on the programs I currently use."

JBLE-Eustis DPH, with an FY2020 accreditation goal, is among 28 military health departments required to be accredited by 2028. Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public health services by efforts to conform to national public health performance standards change day-to-day operations of Departments of Public Health and keep communities healthy.