BLOOMFIELD, NJ--The Bloomfield Health Department (BHD) was the first in New Jersey to become accredited. Currently, the department is going through the process to become reaccredited, which it must do every five years. While licensing is a legally mandated function, accreditation is a voluntary function that demonstrates program quality recognition. The process is comprehensive, and every year the BHD must submit an extremely detailed report to retain its accreditation. 

Accreditation covers twelve domains of public health and essential services. The BHD must collect measures to demonstrate proof that each area is performing well. This includes collecting documentation, narratives, and other evidence, which must be meticulously handled and uploaded to the state. It requires the cooperation and assistance of the entire department — everyone gets involved.

The Benefits of Accreditation

Karen Lore, the Director of Health and Welfare, and Samantha Bunsa, Director of Health Education, bring nearly forty years of public health experience to the department and discussed the process and its many benefits for both the department and the citizens it serves. Accreditation requires that there is continuous quality improvement occurring throughout all areas of the department. Lore stated that the department is continually working to understand the needs of the community better and then developing plans that address those needs, working from the inside out rather than from the outside in. This ongoing quality improvement process means constantly measuring what’s working, what’s not, and what can be improved. Perhaps the most significant benefit Bunsa found from being accredited meant getting to use evidence-based approaches, focusing on data, and utilizing that data in ways that helped benefit the community. 

Other benefits to becoming accredited are better access to getting grants and funding — which means access to resources for the people of Bloomfield. Bloomfield is also able to contract with other towns. Most of all, being accredited means that the BHD demonstrates that it is continually providing and meeting a standard of excellence. 

There are obstacles to why many other departments aren’t accredited: It’s a lot of work, for one. Lore said the BHD is fortunate to have a multi-disciplinary team that pulled together to make the accreditation happen. Some departments might not have the same resources available. Bunsa noted that many local health departments are doing a lot of work with a lot less.

A Team Effort 

Lore notes that becoming accredited has made the BHD a better department: “It means working smarter and working together; communications are better across the organization and into the community, so it’s worth it. We’re very happy with the outcome. We’ve proven we can be effective and relevant, and that the role of public health is relevant.”

The BHD focuses on educating the public and moving public health forward with proven and successful evidence-driven programs. 

You can learn more about the Bloomfield Health Department by visiting http://bloomfieldtwpnj.com under the Government Health and Human Services tab, by calling the main number at 973-680-4024, or by following their Instagram account @bdhhs. They are currently promoting monthly Instagram live events with general health information — follow them for more details!

Editor's note (03/18/21): The original article stated that the Bloomfield Health Department had become reaccredited.  They are currently in the process of reaccreditation now.