Usually, it’s the Guilford County health department inspecting others, but in a few weeks the tables will be turned and the department will be the inspected rather than the inspector.

Once every four years North Carolina, state health officials come into Guilford County and give the health department a thorough once over to see if it makes the grade to keep state accreditation.

The Guilford County health department – now a division of the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services – has never failed a state accreditation inspection, and right now county health officials are getting their P’s and Q’s lined up in a row – and dotting the i’s as well – to prepare for the comprehensive review the department will face on Wednesday, Jan. 16 and Thursday, Jan. 17.

At that time, state inspectors will swoop down on the facilities run by the department, check paperwork to make sure it’s accurate, study the department’s policies and procedures and interview the Guilford County Commissioners – since in Guilford County the Board of Commissioners serves as the board of health.

Guilford County Assistant Health Director Ken Carter said the extensive review covers 44 benchmarks and 144 activities.  Before the visit, the department must answer a lot of questions in writing.

“They ask questions and we provide answers and evidence,” Carter said.  “They do a site visit and interview people.”

Carter said county health officials have to be ready to defend practices and show everything from evidence of adherence to regulatory guidelines to a demonstration of “cultural competency” – the ability to provide care to those who speak different languages or come from different cultures.  Carter said state inspectors will even check to make sure the department’s signage is clear, adequate and in line with regulations.

Then there are the interviews of health department employees and others.

“They will interview three commissioners,” Carter said.

On Jan. 16, the inspectors will start at the department’s building at 1100 E. Wendover Ave. and go from there.

How worried are health department leaders?

Guilford County Health Director Merle Green said the department is more than ready and Carter said that, if the past is any indication, there’s nothing for his department to worry about.

“Last time, out of 144 activities, we had one deduction,” he said, adding that there was even a question about that one.