Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health; a guidebook for local health officials
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Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health; a guidebook for local health officials

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  • Alternative Title:
    PACE EH, NACCHO's CEHA program, community-based environmental health assessment
  • Description:
    The Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH) offers local health officials guidance in conducting a community-based environmental health assessment and creating an accurate and verifiable profile of the community's environmental health status. The process is designed to improve decision making by taking a collaborative community-based approach to generating an action plan that is based on a set of priorities that reflect both an accurate assessment of local environmental health status and an understanding of public values and priorities. The methodology takes the user through a series of tasks to engage the public, collect necessary and relevant information related to community environmental health concerns, rank issues, and set local priorities for action. At the heart are three core processes: developing new relationships with community stakeholders, expanding understanding about the relationship between human health and the state of the environment, and redefining a leadership role for public health officials in environmental health. The methodology entails the steps outlined below to answer the necessary questions in determining community priorities for action: Task 1: Determine Community Capacity to Undertake the Assessment; Task 2: Define and Characterize the Community; Task 3: Assemble Community Environmental Health Assessment Team; Task 4: Define the Goals of the Assessment; Task 5: Generate the Environmental Health Issue List; Task 6: Analyze Issues with a Systems Framework; Task 7: Develop Appropriate Community Environmental Health Indicators; Task 8: Select Standards; Task 9: Create Environmental Health Issue Profiles; Task 10: Rank the Environmental Health Issues; What are the biggest/most serious problems in our community?; Task 11: Set Priorities for Action; Task 12: Develop an Action Plan; Task 13: Evaluate Progress and Plan for the Future. While the methodology is laid out sequentially, it is meant to be flexible. In reality, this is an iterative and fluid process that can be taken in as many different directions as there are communities. While every community must chart its own course, PACE EH provides a starting point and some guidance on the primary tasks in a community based environmental health assessment. Presented through a mix of philosophy, practical guidance, and lessons from the field, PACE EH provides guidance not only on conducting an assessment but also on providing a new form of leadership, based on new relationships and partnerships with others in the community, to create healthy communities. In practice, the outcomes and benefits are as much about establishing a leadership role for local health officials and building a sustainable community process for decision making as they are about conducting a community-based environmental health assessment.

    NOTE: This is a new foreword for the 2008 printing of the NACCHO’s Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH) Guidebook.

  • Content Notes:
    "PACE EH, NACCHO's CEHA program, community-based environmental health assessment."

    "May 2000, Reprinted May 2008."

    Development of PACE EH began in July 1995 as a multi-year partnership between the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An 18-member Steering Committee, made up of representatives from federal agencies, academia, and research institutions, as well as local environmental health professionals and community organizers, provided overall direction and oversight. Subsequently, a Work Group of local public health and environmental health officials with interest and experience in assessment issues was convened to write this guidebook. Ten local health departments served as demonstration sites in a field test of the guidebook. This document could not have been finalized without the willingness of pilot-site coordinators to embrace the philosophical intent of PACE EH and to provide detailed feedback to NACCHO about their experiences and findings. Based on the test results, the Work Group completed the final version of the document in January 2000.

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