CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Representatives from health departments around the state were in Charleston on Tuesday to learn more about becoming nationally accredited.
The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and the state Division of Local Health Departments hosted a day-long meeting meant to educate health officials about the accreditation process.
About 50 representatives from 20 of the state's health departments attended the meeting, Gupta said.
"The idea of accreditation is to develop standardizations for all public health services across the state and across the nation," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the Kanawha health department. "So all people are expected to get a minimum standard of services wherever they live within the state of West Virginia as well as within the United States."
Health departments are not required to be accredited. Kanawha-Charleston was the first in the state to apply to the Public Health Accreditation Board for accreditation.
"Now we are encouraging and working with all the 48 other health departments as well as the state health department to get on board with [accreditation]," Gupta said. "This will increase the quality, the transparency, the accountability of the use of public dollars for public health services across community health departments within the state of West Virginia."
Gupta said the health agency plans to have more meetings geared toward accreditation.
"There's been a tremendous amount of interest in today's meeting, which is good," Gupta said.
David Stone, the education specialist for the Public Health Accreditation Board spoke to health department representatives about the steps and the documentation in the accreditation process.
While becoming accredited is now a voluntary process for health departments, Stone said that in the future, accreditation might be linked to state or federal funding or to grants.
"We do want departments to be ready to go through [the accreditation process]," Stone said. "Don't just pick a day and say you want to be accredited at such and such a time. But really determine the reasons for the departments to go through it and that it makes sense for them to go through the process."
Danny Scalise, CEO of the community action agency EnAct, spoke at the meeting and encouraged health officials to consider becoming accredited.
"[Accreditation] will raise the bar just a little bit," Scalise said. "It will give the employees just a little bit of pride in what they're doing. It will show the public that their tax dollars are being spent wisely."
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.