Dec. 8, 2003 When Roy Lester Schneider Hospital and Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center receive the final report from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations next month, the health care centers on St. Thomas and St. John, respectively, will finally achieve a goal that has been elusive for more than 40 years: accreditation.
Rodney Miller, chief executive officer for RLSH, called a press conference Monday morning to announce the accreditation after JCAHO evaluated the hospital last week.
"Last week was truly a historic event," Miller said.
JCAHO is the largest and oldest health-care accrediting body in the United States. Roughly 18,000 health-care organizations are accredited by the organization throughout the country. Miller said that during the four-day evaluation, JCAHO officials spent roughly one-and-a-half hours in each patient-care unit and one hour each in other departments of the hospital. Officials observed medical procedures, talked to patients about their care and scrutinized each unit for adherence to health-care and quality-control standards.
Although the final report will not be released for another 30 days, JCAHO officials have given preliminary accreditation to the Schneider and Smith facilities, Miller said.
"For the last year, we have worked hard on such issues as building safety, cleanliness, infection control, medication-storage procedures and performance improvement. The surveyors noted this and also had suggestions for improvement," Miller said.
The accreditation will allow for managed-care organizations and insurance carriers that will only do business with accredited health-care facilities to give more options to patients. Both facilities will be eligible for federal grants that would otherwise be unavailable.
Although accreditation has been sought for decades, last week marked the first time accreditation officials from any organization had evaluated facilities at RLSH and the Myrah Keating Smith facility, Miller said. Doctors, staff, and executive board members credited Miller with pushing forward and setting a date for accreditation officials to inspect the hospital.
"My style is to go for it, and if we fail, then we pick each other up, talk about it and move forward," Miller said of his decision to invite JCAHO officials to inspect facilities.
Dr. Ronald Nimmo, a medical doctor at RLSH, said Miller and the executive staff at the hospital pulled hospital workers together over the past few months in an effort to get the hospital ready for the accreditation survey. Everyone at Schneider pulled together like a large family, he said.
"You would literally see people here 24 hours a day working together as a family to get this hospital ready for this accreditation survey," Nimmo said.
Dr. George Rosenberg, a physician at Schneider for more than 20 years, spoke about the elusive accreditation which has been pursued by the hospital since he started.
Rosenberg said many staff and workers at Schneider felt there was not enough time to get ready for JCAHO officials, and that accreditation was not a realistic goal. However, when accreditation officials arrived last week, everyone was ready.
"By the time they arrived to survey us, we knew we were going to pass we were ready for anything they threw at us. I look forward to them returning again," Rosenberg said.
Although Miller praised the staff for the positive results, he received a standing ovation from board members, doctors and others on Monday.
June Adams, vice chair of the Schneider Hospital Board, remarked that many had reservations about hiring the 28-year-old Miller as the hospitals top official, but the accreditation only proves that Miller is destined for greatness.
"I think we could not have found a better person for the job," Adams said.
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