SPRINGFIELD — Months of work to organize new public health departments serving Ford and Iroquois counties paid off Wednesday as the Illinois Department of Public Health notified the agencies that they have been granted their long-awaited certification.
"It is indeed my pleasure to be the one to formally announce the certifications of the Iroquois Public Health Department and Ford County Public Health Department, effective May 8, 2014," wrote Steve Williams, interim administrator of the to-be-dissolved Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department, in an email to public health officials in the two counties.
Earlier Wednesday, Williams received an email containing letters from LaMar Hasbrouck, director of the state health department, notifying the two new agencies that certification had been granted to both of them for a period of five years.
As certified local health departments, the Ford and Iroquois agencies are now eligible for the Department's Local Health Protection Grant.
Amid persisting disagreement between the Ford and Iroquois county boards over the operation of the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department, both boards voted in November to dissolve the bi-county agency and create independent health departments serving their respective counties.
The new agencies received their certification only six days after the state health department notified them that their respective IPLANs — which stands for the Illinois Project for Local Assessment of Needs — had been approved. Approval of the IPLAN is one of the main steps needed for certification.
Each IPLAN is like a "road map" for addressing the health needs of each county over the next five years, said Mike Short, president of the Ford County Public Health Department board. Each IPLAN was created by public health staff with input from a Community Advisory Committee made up of representatives of health agencies in each county.
"I'm very proud," Williams said. "It was a great community effort."