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SRMC Officials Optimistic About Reaccreditation

July 5, 2006 – According to officials at Schneider Regional Medical Center, preliminary verbal reports by surveyors from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) indicate the hospital will be reaccredited.
The findings of those reports were shared at a press conference Wednesday, where Rodney Miller Sr., Schneider Regional's chief executive officer, said the surveyors had "glowing things to say about many aspects of our patient care in their report."
Miller added that surveyors found six areas that need improvement within the hospital itself and eight areas of improvement within the facility's laboratory. "We were told that the national average is about seven," he said. "So this is pretty good; we were told that we are performing above average."
"We do not have to wait for the full report to be filed at JCAHO's office in Illinois to know that we passed the survey," Miller added. "Not only did we pass, but we surpassed many of the standards JCAHO requires."
After the meeting, Amos Carty, the hospital's general legal counsel, further explained that JCAHO surveyors look to see if a health care institution meets a range of standards. "There are about 400 standards we're rated on," he said. "And within those standards, there are also about 2,000 areas of performance that we have to meet as well. So 14 out of 2,000 isn't bad at all."
When asked, Carty said that after the hospital and lab had been scrutinized, JCAHO surveyors held a meeting with Miller, then a subsequent meeting with the board, to say that the hospital had been reaccredited.
However, the reaccreditation is not yet official. According to Elizabeth Zhani, a media relations specialist for JCAHO, the hospital still has 45 days to address the "requirements for improvement" listed in the surveyor's report – including educating hospital staff about various policies and making sure all medical data is reported.
After the hospital comes into compliance with those standards, a final report has to be issued from JCAHO. According to the JCAHO Web site, a health care institution may not "market" its accreditation until they have received "the final award letter."
According to a recent press release, JCAHO issued Schneider Regional a denial of accreditation on June 27. A preliminary denial of accreditation was issued to the hospital in March, following a visit by the Joint Commission last November.
The denial was the result of unfavorable conditions at the laboratory (See "Confusion Reigns over Schneider Medical Center's Reaccreditation").
"Schneider Regional Medical Center declined the opportunity to seek appeal and accepted the decision of denial of accreditation," the release said. "Furthermore, the hospital requested an immediate re-survey of the hospital and laboratory services …."
During the conference, Miller confirmed that if the hospital does not meet the 45-day deadline, its reaccreditation would be affected. "One of our most critical aspects is dealing with the facility's elevators," he said. "If those are not replaced, our reaccreditation could be impacted."
He said that more funding from the local government would help get the hospital back on track. "For more than two years, we have continually and consistently asked the V.I. Legislature for more funds to operate a medical center that now includes a brand new facility – but our requests have fallen on deaf ears," Miller said.
He added that the hospital still has to be reimbursed for money used to open the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute. He also said that the hospital was not given an increase in its annual budget allotment to "recruit and retain" critical staff – including nurses. "Finally, we have asked for $1 million needed to replace our antiquated elevators – we haven't even gotten a response," Miller said.
Despite the lack of funding, however, Miller said the hospital's staff would continue to work on complying with the 45-day deadline. "We have our eyes on the prize," he said. "Because this accreditation is our life-blood. It's something that we have to achieve – something we will use to measure ourselves against other health care institutions throughout the world," Miller added.
The hospital was accredited for the first time in 2003 under Miller's leadership. Under the terms of JCAHO accreditation – which is a voluntary program – a survey and reaccredidation must be done every three years.

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