NACCHO’s Project Public Health Ready (PPHR) recently recognized four agencies from Tennessee and nine agencies from Florida for their ability to plan for, respond to, and recover from public health emergencies. NACCHO extends congratulations to the following agencies for their PPHR recognition:
- Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department, TN
- Sullivan County Regional Health Department, TN
- East Tennessee Regional Health Office, TN
- Upper Cumberland Regional Health Office, TN
- Florida Department of Health in Brevard County, FL
- Florida Department of Health in Columbia County, FL
- Florida Department of Health in Hamilton County, FL
- Florida Department of Health in Monroe County, FL
- Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee County, FL
- Florida Department of Health in Osceola County, FL
- Florida Department of Health in Suwannee County, FL
Additionally, two agencies were re-recognized after their original recognition five years ago. The agencies include Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County and Florida Department of Health in Seminole County.
Since 2003, nearly 400 local health departments from 27 states have been recognized by PPHR either individually or as part of a region. PPHR offers local health departments, or local health departments working collaboratively as a region, the opportunity to assess their department’s current preparedness infrastructure and ensure that their plans are updated to the most current standards in the local public health preparedness field.
PPHR is a competency-based training and recognition program that assesses preparedness capacity and assists local health departments to respond to emergencies. Participating in PPHR equips local health departments with sustainable tools to plan, train, and exercise using a continuous improvement model. Applying for PPHR is a process that allows agencies the opportunity to update and improve their plans and planning processes with support from NACCHO, their states, and experienced peer reviewers from across the country.
PPHR applicants earn recognition by meeting the PPHR criteria, a set of nationally-recognized standards developed by and for local public health practitioners. The criteria are comprised of three goals – all-hazards preparedness planning, workforce capacity development, and demonstration of readiness through exercises/real events – and are regularly updated to align with the most current standards and federal guidance, including CDC’s Public Health Preparedness Capabilities: National Standards for State and Local Planning.
PPHR applicants join a network of collaboration through the program’s state-supported model. Any agency that applies to PPHR does so with the help of a PPHR state lead – an employee of state-level entity (usually a state health department or a State Association of County and City Health Officials) who coordinates all applications from his or her state and serves as a liaison between the applicants and NACCHO. State leads provide assistance to applicants by sharing state level plans and templates, leveraging the work and experiences of other past and current applicants from the state, and working with NACCHO to obtain guidance, best practices, and other resources.
As they work to meet the criteria, applicants collaborate with their state, local, and community response partners to develop comprehensive and coordinated plans. This process builds relationships among health department staff and between other local agencies and community groups. The national recognition of these collaborative efforts also yields increased visibility, credibility, and accountability for local health departments in their role as response partners.
Previous participants have stated the many benefits that come from seeking PPHR recognition. “PPHR was the mechanism for different areas of my health department to work on preparedness together,” said Amanda Bogard, Branch Manager for Disaster Preparedness at Barren River District Health Department in Kentucky, a local health department that earned PPHR recognition in 2006 and was re-recognized in 2012. “It solidified the bond between environmental health, communicable disease, and preparedness. PPHR allowed my health department to receive a thorough review of our plans and exercises, which would not have occurred without this program. We valued the comments and feedback submitted by reviewers and look forward to implementing several suggestions.”
More information for getting started with PPHR is available on the PPHR website and in the PPHR process guide. Agencies that are interested in pursuing PPHR recognition should visit the state-supported model page on the PPHR website to see if their state already participates. Agencies with an identified state lead should reach out them to see how they can become involved. Those without a state lead should email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about setting up PPHR in their state.