CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department on Wednesday formally started the process of becoming West Virginia's first nationally accredited health department.
Health officials have submitted their application to the Public Health Accreditation Board. The process of becoming accredited could take about a year.
Health officials say accrediting public health departments will standardize care, which is something that's been missing in public health.
Accreditation is not mandatory but is open to state public health bureaus and local health departments.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the KCHD, said within a few years, national accreditation could be a requirement for funding streams.
Gupta said it was important for the Kanawha-Charleston department to set an example by becoming the first in the state to be accredited. The health department has previously set examples with its indoor air regulations and school-based immunization clinics, Gupta said.
"Kanawha-Charleston has typically been [at] the forefront and a leader in public health actions to move us and citizens of the state in the right direction," Gupta said. "That's why I think it's important that we have to lead this effort and assist and collaborating with others."
Several states already have requirements that local health departments are accredited through the state. West Virginia has no such requirements.