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  • Aug 28, 2018

Cambridge Public Health Department Awarded National Accreditation

CAMBRIDGE, MA — The Cambridge Public Health Department has achieved national accreditation through the national nonprofit Public Health Accreditation Board.

The goal of this voluntary accreditation program is to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of the nation’s state, Tribal, local, and territorial health departments.

Currently 200 local health departments in the U.S. meet the Public Health Accreditation Board’s rigorous national standards for delivering quality programs and services to the community.

The Cambridge Public Health Department now joins the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Boston Public Health Commission, and the Worcester Division of Public Health/Central Massachusetts Regional Public Health Alliance as the only four accredited governmental public health agencies in the Commonwealth.

“This is a tremendous honor for Cambridge,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale, “and affirms the city’s longstanding commitment to leveling the playing field when it comes to health by investing in education, affordable housing, social services, public safety, and public health. This accomplishment is the direct result of the hard work and dedication that Claude Jacob and his entire staff demonstrate on a daily basis.”

The accreditation process in Cambridge began in 2013 with the development of a community health assessment to identify the city’s major health needs. This process brought together local leaders in public health, health care, urban planning, housing, public safety, education, business, and the nonprofit sector, as well as hundreds of residents. The data and key themes in the 2014 City of Cambridge Community Health Assessment informed the city’s first ever community health improvement plan, which has set the city’s health agenda through 2020.

The 2015 City of Cambridge Community Health Improvement Plan lays out actionable strategies for addressing four health priority areas: mental/behavioral health and substance abuse; violence prevention; healthy, safe, and affordable housing; and healthy eating and active living.

“Accreditation has been a transformative journey for us,” said Claude Jacob, chief public health officer and director of the Cambridge Public Health Department. “We gained the knowledge and tools that allowed us to engage hundreds of residents in identifying the city’s top health, social, economic, and safety concerns; build effective and strategic partnerships to tackle these issues; and improve internal systems to better serve the community. I am especially grateful to our staff, our community partners, and the city’s leadership for making this achievement possible.”

Among the organizational strengths cited by the Public Health Accreditation Board site reviewers were the department’s committed staff and progressive leadership, strong community partnerships, use of data to improve health, and collaborative approach to health equity.

“I am extremely proud of the health department for achieving accreditation and using its public health expertise and platform to address social and economic threats to health that individuals often lack control over, such as racism and poverty,” said Patrick R. Wardell, Cambridge Health Alliance CEO and commissioner of public health for the City of Cambridge.

"The Cambridge Public Health Department's ability to collaborate effectively with partner organizations across the city has proven to be an invaluable asset to Cambridge," said Ellen Semonoff, assistant city manager of human services and chair of the Cambridge Public Health Subcommittee of the Cambridge Health Alliance Board of Trustees. "I am delighted that the Public Health Accreditation Board has acknowledged this strength, and I look forward to our continued work on protecting and promoting the health of the city."

The national accreditation program, jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards against which the nation's nearly 3,000 governmental public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. To receive accreditation, a health department must undergo a rigorous, multi-faceted, peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets or exceeds a set of quality standards and measures.

“The Cambridge Public Health Department joins the growing ranks of accredited health departments in a strong commitment to their public health mission,” said PHAB President and CEO Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN. “The peer-review process provides valuable feedback to inform health departments of their strengths and areas for improvement, so that they can better protect and promote the health of the people they serve in their communities.”

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The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) was established in 2007 to serve as the national public health accrediting body and is jointly funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The development of national public health accreditation has involved, and is supported by, public health leaders and practitioners from the national, tribal, state, local, and territorial levels. Learn more about PHAB or sign up for the PHAB e-newsletter by visiting

The Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) protects and promotes the health of everyone in Cambridge through services, information, policies, and regulations. CPHD is a city department administered by Cambridge Health Alliance, a regional health care delivery system. Learn more about the department at

This media release is available online at:

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