Centers earn nod for level of care

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 17, 2000

National medical standards watchers have given their approval to CAO Family Medical Centers’ list of services.

Monday, April 17, 2000

National medical standards watchers have given their approval to CAO Family Medical Centers’ list of services. The Ironton-Lawrence County Area Community Action Organization recently announced its four medical centers had achieved accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

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That means the centers’ patient care measures up to what anyone would expect across the country, said Dr. Gail Feinberg, medical director.

And, staff at all four centers – in Ironton, Coal Grove, South Point and Chesapeake – have come together in a commitment to continually meet the Joint Commission’s stringent standards, voluntarily, Dr. Feinberg said.

"We as a group know the mission of a community health center," she said. "This really validates what we’re doing."

The CAO Family Medical Centers have been providing locations for access to primary care medicine and family practice for many years, Dr. Feinberg said.

Four locations provide a segment of the public with physicals, cholesterol screenings, minor wound care and all phases of family medicine, she said.

So, it was only natural that the staff would seek accreditation to make sure patients were receiving those services, she said.

"We sought accreditation for our organization because we want it to be the best," said Tony Crowe, director of health services.

Formed in 1951, the Joint Commission evaluates healthcare organizations and compares services to a set of strict national standards.

The year-long process included work by every center staff member, brainstorming, self-evaluation, surveys, interviews by Joint Commission staff and ended with an on-site survey in December.

The medical centers formed groups to address standards of patient rights, medical care, office environment, organization, financial goals and everything else involved with operating the centers, Dr. Feinberg said.

The CAO Family Medical Centers scored 95 out of a possible 100, and only 15 percent to 20 percent of ambulatory care centers nationwide surveyed by the Joint Commission received a score at that level, Crowe said.

Crowe credited the staff’s dedication to quality as reason for achieving the accreditation.

"What it meant for us is, beneficially, the staff came together," Dr. Feinberg said. "It took us all working together to meet the goal, which is serving the patients."

Also, staff will continue to meet together as teams, continually evaluating the standards and reporting back to the Joint Commission, she said.

That commission will continue to watch the centers’ practices and re-evaluate the accreditation in three years.

What it means for patients is that their medical center staff stepped forward on their own to make sure their services were the best, Dr. Feinberg said.

"Every five years, we go through the government’s review but we’ve never sought accreditation by an outside source," she said. "It’s more strict, but the reasons behind it are patient and staff safety and patient care."