ARH earns agency’s gold seal

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has reaffirmed Andalusia Regional Hospital’s accreditation with its gold seal of approval, the Commission’s strongest designation.

The Joint Commission has accredited hospitals for more than 50 years and currently accredits approximately 88 percent of the nation’s hospitals, according to its web site. The commission sets and measures standards for health care quality and safety. To earn and maintain accreditation, a hospital must undergo an on-site survey by a Joint Commission survey team. Joint Commission surveys are unannounced and occur 18 to 39 months after the previous unannounced survey.

Andalusia Regional Hospital CEO Mark Dooley said local staff members were expecting an accreditation team in the early fall, but the facility wasn’t surveyed until December of 2008.

“Every day, we expected them to show up,” he said.

But the results were worth the wait.

The survey process evaluates actual care processes by tracing patients through the care, treatment and services they received. It also analyzes key operational systems that directly impact the quality and safety of patient care.

The Joint Commission has several levels of accreditation, Dooley said, adding that ARH received the highest level.

Chief Nursing Officer Melissa Davis said the accreditation is “proof of an organization-wide commitment to provide quality care on an ongoing basis,” and said she is proud to work with staff members who are concerned about what needs to be done for accreditation.

Andalusia Regional Hospital is a 100-bed facility that serves the residents of southern Alabama. According to the Joint Commission’s web site, the nearest Joint Commission-accredited hospitals are D.W. McMillan in Brewton; North Okaloosa Medical Center in Crestview; Beacon’s Children’s Hospital in Luverne; and L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital in Greenville. The accreditation process is voluntary.

Andalusia Regional Hospital was among the Thomson Reuters Top 100 Hospitals in the nation for 2005 and 2007.

“Above all, the national standards are intended to stimulate continuous, systematic and organization-wide improvement in an organization’s performance and the outcomes of care,” said Mark Pelletier, R.N., M.S., executive director, Hospital Programs, Accreditation and Certification Services, The Joint Commission. “The community should be proud that Andalusia Regional Hospital is focusing on the most challenging goal – to continuously raise quality and safety to higher levels.”