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Garrett County, Maryland Honored For Excellence In Public Health

At the recent National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, Garrett County’s Population Health, Innovation, and Informatics Unit received a 2019 NACCHO Model Practice Award for its open source population health equity framework widely known as the Garrett County Planning Tool.

The Garrett County Planning Tool, found at, 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, with local Informatics Administrator, John Corbin.

To date, the Garrett County Planning Tool has already received recognition as a 2018 Promising Practice by NACCHO, the 2018 Outstanding Rural Health Achievement by the Maryland Rural Health Association, a 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 open source framework, now replicated in multiple communities across the United States, creates pathways to more meaningful collaboration, innovation, data sharing, and has brought significant financial gains to Garrett County.

“We are proud to recognize local health departments who have excelled and developed innovative public health projects that are making local communities healthier and more secure,” said NACCHO’s Chief Executive Officer Lori Tremmel Freeman. “The 2019 Model Practice Awards are a showcase of the best and brightest in local public health.”

The Model Practice Award celebrates local health departments for developing programs that demonstrate exemplary and replicable best practices in response to a critical local public health need. NACCHO shares these outstanding practices through the Model Practices Database ( to facilitate evidence-based practice in the field of public health and helps other local health departments implement peer-reviewed strategies that work.

Open source projects like the Garrett County Planning Tool help communities access tools that improve the health of their communities, regardless of their size or financial standing.

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.

“We provided the framework, but it is the community’s dedication and passion that makes this body of work so successful. It is a tremendous honor to work in Garrett County alongside people who truly care and want to continue finding solutions that work. To have the community’s work rigorously evaluated at this level demonstrates the value of collaboration,” said Argabrite, “and we humbly accept this honor on behalf of our incredible community.”

To read more about this innovative, replicable, and award-winning platform, or explore the open source framework, visit the Garrett County Planning Tool online at

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