SVH reaccredited by health organization

Posted Dec. 30, 2009, at 9:05 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — Sebasticook Valley Hospital announced this week that it has been reaccredited by a hospital standards survey firm called the Joint Commission.

The hospital, which has held the accreditation since 2003, is not required to do so. Hospital President and CEO John C. May said the purpose of the accreditation is to demonstrate to employees and the community that the hospital meets rigorous standards in virtually all aspects.

“We believe this accreditation sends a very tangible message to the people we serve, that quality care is of critical importance to us,” said May in a prepared statement. “We have a top-notch staff and a great team of physicians and health care providers.”

Hospital spokeswoman Susan diRosario echoed May’s statement.

“It is an opportunity for health care organizations to participate in a survey process by an independent organization that’s nationally recognized,” said diRosario during an interview. “This is not just SVH surveying ourselves and saying we do an excellent job of A, B and C.”

The Joint Commission, based in Illinois, accredits 17,000 health care organizations and more than 4,200 hospitals in the United States. That accounts for more than 80 percent of all hospitals and more than 90 percent of all hospital beds, according to Joint Commission spokesman Ken Powers. Inspections by the commission, which happen every three years or so, are unannounced, which allows the hospital’s operations to be seen as they are on any random day. In all but about 1 percent of cases, the Joint Commission suggests areas for improvement.

“Accreditation is a risk-reduction activity,” said Powers. “The whole point is to improve patient care.”

The survey looks at a range of operations from infection prevention and patient care to billing, maintenance and janitorial services. The accreditation covers all services offered at the Pittsfield hospital as well as Sebasticook Regional Family Care centers in Carmel, Clinton, Newport and Pittsfield. It also covers rehabilitation service locations in Pittsfield and Newport as well as Eastern Maine Urology Services in Detroit.

“It takes a tremendous effort on the part of all of our employees to be in a constant state of readiness,” said diRosario. “This is definitely something we give our employees lots of kudos for.”

Lucky Hollander, director of legislative relations for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said the accreditation is “completely voluntary” on the hospital’s part.

“It’s a good thing to do but it’s not required by us,” said Hollander. “It doesn’t impact their license at all.”

Hollander said DHHS does not maintain data about which accreditations are held by Maine hospitals. No one at the Maine Hospital Association was available Tuesday or Wednesday for comment.

Internet searches by the Bangor Daily News revealed that hospitals across Maine receive accreditation from the Joint Commission and numerous other organizations. Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, for example, holds accreditations from at least 13 organizations, according to its Web site.

Sebasticook Valley Hospital also holds accreditations from other organizations ranging from the American College of Radiology for its mammography program to the American Association of Diabetes Educators for its diabetes program.

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