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Standardizing Environmental Health Processes at the Iowa Department of Public Health

Ramaswamy, Rohit PhD, MPH, Grad Dip (Bios); Segal, Stephanie MPH; Harris, Joy MPH; Randolph, Greg D. MD, MPH; Cornett, Amanda MPH; Harrison, Lisa Macon MPH; Lea, C. Suzanne PhD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: January/February 2012 - Volume 18 - Issue 1 - p 27–35
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e31822d2dea

Standardized work is the foundation of continuous improvement. Documenting standard processes is a precursor to problem solving and allows an organization to understand work flow, measure performance, and identify opportunities for improvement. Environmental health is an important function of public health departments but is rarely studied systematically. This article describes documentation of standard processes, identification of improvement opportunities, and lessons learned for environmental health processes at the Iowa Department of Public Health, using a pilot group of 3 local county offices. The approach described in this article can serve as a template for other states to follow in their quality improvement journeys.

This article describes one quality improvement activity at the Iowa Department of Public Health, the development of standard processes for local environmental health.

Public Health Leadership Program, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, and Global Health, Des Moines University, Des Moines, Iowa (Dr Ramaswamy); Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Des Moines, Iowa (Segal); Iowa Department of Public Health, Des Moines (Harris); North Carolina Center for Public Health Quality, Raleigh (Dr Randolph, Mss Cornett, and Harrison); Department of Pediatrics and Public Health Leadership Program, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill (Dr Randolph); and Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina (Dr Lea).

Correspondence: Greg D. Randolph, MD, MPH, NC Center for Public Health Quality, PO Box 18763, Raleigh, NC 27619 (

We thank the following local Environmental Health staff for the Iowa Department of Public Health for their active participation in this pilot: Ted Trewin, BS, CIOWTS. Environmental Health Director; Jodi Sutter, REHS, MPH, Environmental Specialist; and Jennine Wolf, Public Health Inspector. We also thank Mary Mincer-Hansen, RN, PhD, Director of Public Health at Des Moines University, for her guidance throughout this pilot.

Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.