Goodhue County Health and Human Services has joined Dakota, Washington and other Twin Cities-area county health departments in leading Minnesota toward statewide accreditation.

The Goodhue County health department, which provides a host public health programs, economic assistance and social services, announced in June that it received national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board, or PHAB. That makes it the 10th health department in the state and among the more than 268 nationwide to earn the distinction.

"We are proud of our professionals wanting to take this on for our county and the people we serve," said Brad Anderson, chair of the Goodhue County Health and Human Services Board, in a news release. "The accreditation process helps to ensure that our work is guided by proven, effective national standards and this is now embedded in our health and human services operations."

PHAB is a nongovernmental organization. It launched the voluntary accreditation program in 2011 with the aim "to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing and ultimately transforming the quality and performance of the nation's state, Tribal, local and territorial public health departments," according to the nonprofit's website.

Accreditation involves a peer-reviewed assessment process based on a health department's management, communication and ability to provide essential public health services.

Goodhue County HHS Director Nina Arneson said the health department identified weaknesses and made improvements during the assessment process.

2020 goal

A workgroup of the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee set a goal of getting all community health boards in Minnesota ready to apply for national accreditation by 2020.

Minnesota Department of Health received PHAB accreditation in 2014. Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment became the third accredited health department in the state in March 2016, followed later that year by Dakota County Public Health Department.

In Wisconsin, St. Croix County DHHS-Public Health and Pierce County Public Health Department are both accredited by PHAB.

"People living and working in the communities served by these health departments can be assured that their health department is strong and has the capacity to protect and promote their health," PHAB President and CEO Kaye Bender said in a statement.

PHAB is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.