How Performance Improvement Can Support COVID Response 

by David Stone, MS, CPLP


Think you’ve heard enough about COVID? I know you’re probably exhausted from it, but public health is still both battling it and learning from it. We’ll continue to learn well beyond when the pandemic has ended. And a key method for that learning is through the sharing of peer experiences.  

On February 10, PHAB hosted a webinar titled “Advancing Public Health Performance in Times of COVID-19: Insights from PHAB Accredited Health Departments.” During the session, PHAB held a dialogue with three health departments – one smaller, one medium-sized and one larger – about their experience with COVID and performance improvement. The purpose, while sharing those experiences, was to show how accreditation standards helped prepare the departments for their response and that performance improvement can be a part of the response. 

The speakers were inspiring in letting listeners know that they can continue with performance improvement activities in a time of COVID, even with capacity and other issues. They were honest that the COVID response consumed their energy and time, so other issues had to be put on hold. Having gone through PHAB accreditation did help them, specifically in terms of elements of infrastructure they had put in place – the community connections, partnerships, building a culture of quality, and planning – so that they responded to COVID with a performance and quality mindset in place. They also addressed their successes and difficulties in using an equity lens in their response, such as the locations used for vaccination clinics and how they communicate with vulnerable populations. The importance of continuous engagement with governing bodies was also emphasized. 

The webinar archive is available for viewing and we will be sharing the insights of these three health departments through an eLearning module that captures the presentations and includes resources provided by PHAB. The module will launch soon in Bridge, our online education platform.  

While the webinar shared the stories of three health departments, we know you have your own unique stories to share too. PHAB would like to hear about your experiences with COVID regarding performance efforts, how you’ve been innovative in your response, or how you’ve kept working toward accreditation.  

  • Accreditation Works! series: To submit a story about how accreditation has benefited your health department through this challenging time, share a specific process, example, or quality improvement message here
  • Innovation Stories: To submit a story about an innovation, big or small, your health department has made in response to COVID-19 or during the pandemic, please submit this brief form

We use your stories to adapt procedures at PHAB, showcase the efforts of other health departments, and as a way for us to learn from each other. Innovation stories are featured on the Public Health National Center for Innovations website and are used to inspire other health departments to innovate. We look forward to hearing from you.  

Please send any questions to Janalle Goosby, Communications and Public Affairs Specialist, at jgoosby@phaboard.org.  


David Stone, MS, CPLP

David Stone is the Education Services Manager with the Public Health Accreditation Board or PHAB. David directs the development of educational services for PHAB including training, learning events, continuing education, webinars and online modules. His BS was in Zoology with a MS in Health Administration & Wellness. He became certified in Learning and Performance in 2015. Prior to his current position, David was Accreditation Administrator for the North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation Program. David has over 35 years of public health experience. He spent over nine years in local public health serving as Assistant Health Director in Appalachian District Health Department and as Health Director in Surry County.   

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