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Local hospital receives national seal of approval
Written by Greg Ruland   
Saturday, 30 July 2011 05:00

A student about to graduate from a college program told a friend how excited she was to graduate from an accredited program.

Verde Valley Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. James BleicherAccreditation is a big deal — like a seal of approval. Accreditation lets people who go to the institution know that someone from outside says it is a good institution that meets a certain standard. Such was the case recently when Verde Valley Medical Center received the official certificate of national accreditation from Det Norske Veritas Healthcare, a Cincinnati-based hospital accreditation organization.

DNV is an independent global foundation dedicated to safeguarding life, property and the environment. Since receiving its authorization from Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2008, the organization has become recognized for taking a collaborative approach with hospitals on quality improvement.

“We think it’s a big deal because it’s an internationally known company that’s on the cutting edge. We’ve always been accredited, but DNV has the highest standards around,” said Sue Ballad, quality director for VVMC. “What DNV is going to bring to us is at the forefront of quality process improvement — to do our work the best we can and look for ways to keep improving it.”

DNV uses the approach of an annual inspection of current operations from paperwork to patient care. Once the inspection is complete, DNV works up a report which includes praise on what the hospital is doing well along with suggestions and help to improve any weak points.

“They tell us what’s working great and tell us where we can improve. Plus, they help walk us up the ladder. They don’t just use the punitive approach. They help us improve our services,” Ballard said. “I think we got our money’s worth.”

DNV’s services cost about $25,000, VVMC President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. James Bleicher said.

In August, DNV visited every department in the hospital and all of the outlying campuses in Sedona and the Verde Valley.

“They gave us the white glove treatment. The DNV program holds us to an even higher standard than other survey programs. They are very thorough, but their survey doesn’t feel like an inspection; it’s more like a partnership,” Bleicher said. “What this is about is finding issues before they become issues — before it gets to the patient level.”

Hospitals must comply with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conditions of participation to be reimbursed for care provided to patients. A hospital can verify it meets the standard by choosing to be accredited by one of the three private organizations authorized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“Partnering with DNV will help us identify our strengths so we can continue to excel in those areas and assist us in finding opportunities to improve, to innovate and offer the best care possible,” Bleicher said.

The work done by DNV included not only patient care but how the hospital makes decisions, stores medications, allocates nurse staffing and administers policies and procedures.

VVMC decided on DNV because it is the only program that uses the International Organizations for Standardization, or ISO 9001, which is the most recent, Ballard said. The standard is recognized by businesses around the world as the benchmark for continual quality improvement, Ballard said.

The ISO 9001 provides a tested framework and systematic approach to managing an organization’s processes so they consistently meet customer expectations.

“The survey, or inspection, looks at how we do our paperwork, how often we calibrate our machines, how we keep our records, how we talk to patients and how we deliver medications to our patients, among many other services we offer here,” Ballard said. “This was like a test. An outside organization has stated we are a high-quality hospital and they will help us improve. It’s the right thing to do.”

Hospitals accredited by DNV have three years from the first survey to become compliant with the ISO 9001 standards to maintain accreditation. Once accredited, the hospital is allowed to display the DNV emblem.

VVMC is among 200 hospitals around the country that have chosen DNV for accreditation. Eleven of them are in Arizona, including Flagstaff Medical Center and several hospitals in the Phoenix area.

What the accreditation means to patients is they are receiving the best quality care certified by an internationally renowned company that is collaborating with the hospital to improve quality and service, Bleicher said.

“We mean what we say and say what we mean, and our actions are based on what we say and mean,” he said. “It’s a win for us, for our patients and for our community. We deal with people’s lives here.”


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