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For Release:  May 20, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
Oklahoma State Department of Health

Oklahoma Awarded Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Improve Public Health Services and Community Health Outcomes, Grant Will Support Efforts to Improve the Quality of Public Health Statewide

The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced today that Oklahoma has received a $448,398 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to improve the quality of public health services offered in the state. The grant is part of a national program called “Lead States in Public Health Quality Improvement: A Multi-State Learning Collaborative.”

Oklahoma is one of 16 states chosen to participate in the three-year program. The grant will support projects that address specific health outcomes such as decreasing infant mortality or reducing the burden of illness due to preventable chronic disease risk factors like obesity or tobacco use. Additionally, Oklahoma will use the funding to improve how public health services are delivered through local county health departments.

 “We are very pleased to have this opportunity to take the lessons learned from quality improvement activities in business, manufacturing and health care and apply them to Oklahoma’s public health system,” said Secretary of Health and Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Crutcher.  “While we are gratified to be among the states selected, we also recognize that this project brings with it tremendous challenges as we attempt to improve our collection and use of health data and integrate customer service into public health programs.”

“Oklahoma has demonstrated a commitment to improving the quality of their public health services and programs. Their work will lead the way as other local and state public health agencies across the nation prepare for accreditation and strive to create healthier communities,” said James S. Marks, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president and director of the health group at RWJF.

The National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) and the Public Health Leadership Society will manage the project by providing guidance to Oklahoma and the other 15 states and sharing lessons learned with health officials across the country.  The work of the project will play a critical role in helping the public health community prepare for nationalaccreditation in 2011 and will help local and state health departments ensure they are providing quality public health services and programs that meet or exceed national standards established to improve the health of communities.

Acknowledging the momentum surrounding the national voluntary accreditation program for public health departments, NNPHI Chief Executive Officer Joseph Kimbrell said, “This project is timed to coincide with the launch of the national accreditation standards and will help health departments across the country identify and implement the tools and methods they need to ensure the safety and health of the communities they serve.”

The project builds off the momentum of two previous Multi-State Learning Collaborative (MLC) initiatives also funded by RWJF. States in the first phase of the MLC project explored the use of accreditation as a quality improvement process and helped shape the recommendations that established the Public Health Accreditation Board, the nonprofit group that will administer the voluntary accreditation program for state and local public health departments beginning in 2011. The second phase of the MLC brought together 10 states to explore best practices for teaching and implementing quality improvement practices at the state and local level.




The National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) promotes the development and sustainability of unique non-profit organizations that are making innovative contributions to public health.  Public health institutes are committed to collaborating with government, the business community, academia, and other non-profit organizations to improve public health structures, systems and outcomes. Twenty-eight member institutes in twenty-six states currently share NNPHI’s vision to foster innovations in health. 


The Public Health Leadership Society (PHLS) is a membership organization comprised of the alumni from the following leadership programs for senior public health professionals: National Public Health Leadership Institute, State and Regional Public Health Leadership Institutes, and the Robert Wood Johnson State Health Leadership Initiative. PHLS provides an opportunity for alumni to continue their learning experiences and leadership development, maintain and develop professional and personal relations, and contribute to innovative thinking about public health issues. Members of PHLS collaborate with other national public health organizations to shape the future of public health.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.

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