National Public Health Model Practices Announced

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), comprising the collective voices of nearly 3,000 local governmental health departments, announced the 2019 Public Health Model Practice winners on May 16, 2019, including the open source Garrett County Planning Tool.

The Garrett County Planning Tool, located on, is a nationally-recognized public health innovation developed by the Garrett County Health Department’s Population Health, Innovation, and Informatics Unit under the direction of founder and Garrett County Chief Health Strategist Shelley Argabrite. The Garrett County Planning Tool has already been recognized as a 2018 Promising Practice by NACCHO, 2018 Outstanding Rural Health Achievement by the Maryland Rural Health Association, 2017 Outstanding Team Innovation by the Maryland Department of Health, and was a significant factor in promoting Garrett County in its successful bid to become the first Culture of Health community in Maryland. These accolades illustrate the transformative practice of community-driven public health planning and highlight the recognition of transparent, equitable community planning processes to improve health for everyone.

The Garrett County Planning Tool has also been replicated in five communities across the United States, and secured multiple rounds of grant funding and investment in Garrett County.

“The 2019 Model Practice Awards are a showcase of the best and brightest in local public health,” states NACCHO’s Chief Executive Officer Lori Tremmel Freeman in the organization’s official announcement.

Previously, Garrett County, Maryland, received the NACCHO Model Practice designation for its Something to Smile About Dental Program in 2004. This award marks a significant moment for Garrett County, as it continues to grow in national recognition as a Culture of Health community committed to innovative practices that focus on leveraging community voices to improve equity and transform systems.

“A national Model Practice designation recognizes that our work is not only meaningful on a local level, but can drive policy across a broader stage,” states Garrett County Health Officer Bob Stephens. “The Garrett County Health Department’s Population Health, Innovation, and Informatics Unit works tirelessly behind the scenes to develop innovative practices to improve equity and create regional systems and partnerships in the promotion of overarching population health. We are grateful for this national honor, and committed to continuing to make Garrett County, Maryland, a healthier place to live, work, and play for everyone.”

Representatives from the Garrett County Health Department will receive the award on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at the NACCHO Annual Public Health Conference.