June 5, 2006 – A committee of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations will decide June 27 whether Schneider Regional Medical Center will keep its hard-won accreditation.
Deficiencies in the laboratory turned up in a survey last November led to the lab receiving a preliminary denial of accreditation. The hospital appealed the decision, and the committee is set to review the appeal.
But the fact that the hospital is due for its re-accreditation survey sometime in 2006 anyway makes the recent setback somewhat less disconcerting to Rodney Miller Sr., Schneider Regional chief executive officer.
Miller, who said he didn't want to discuss the specifics of the current deficiencies, said, "We're talking about minor things. It could be as simple as not having a policy signed." Meanwhile, Miller said in a phone interview Monday, "I am very confident in the quality of care being given."
Miller said the joint commission has 2,000 different criteria, and added that in 2004, the year after the then Roy L. Schneider Hospital received its first ever accreditation, the joint commission changed its guidelines. He said Schneider hospital was the only facility he knew of that became accredited for the first time and then one year later faced new guidelines.
He said whatever the accreditation committee decides in June, "We're going through [the new] survey no matter what."
According to joint commission spokeswoman Char Hill, accreditation is voluntary. Health care facilities request to be surveyed.
She said if the hospital or the lab were to be denied accreditation, Schneider Regional would have one more chance to appeal.
She said, however, that the committee does not consider in its deliberations improvements made since the survey. "This … discussion is focused strictly on what was found during the survey."
She said if the second appeal was denied, Schneider Regional would have to apply all over again for accreditation. And at an average cost of $25,000, it is not inexpensive, Hill said Monday.
But that is only part of the cost, Miller said. "Going through the accreditation process every three years costs major money."
Hundreds of thousands of dollars, in fact. And the fact that the joint commission changed the guidelines so soon after SRMC received its initial accreditation raises the costs even higher. Miller said the joint commission has had to backpedal. "The joint commission has gone back to review the new process because hospitals are complaining," he said.
But according to Miller, none of that matters. "We are undergoing a survey regardless because we are up for survey." And this time, unlike in November, the facility will have no warning. "They could show up on our doorstep tomorrow." That is why, he said, "we have to prepare, prepare, prepare." And that means no backpedaling on the part of Schneider Regional. The facility must be accredited. "We have no choice," Miller said.
Of the current situation, Miller said, "It could go either way, but going the other way is not an option." Being accredited, he said, is "a must."
Meanwhile, Schneider Regional remains accredited, Hill said.
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