Payson Regional Medical Center officials, who recently launched a major cleanup campaign at the hospital, say they were rewarded for their efforts.
Preliminary reports show the hospital scored 93 out of 100 points with Joint Commission of Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) surveyors who visited PRMC for two days last week.
Russell Judd, the hospital's new chief executive officer, said the score was significantly higher than in past surveys.
"We are very pleased with the preliminary report from JCAHO," he said.
Missy Spencer, assistant CEO at the hospital, said the score is subject to change. "It goes back to the Joint Commission and they review it," she said.
The commission team informed PRMC officials of the score in an exit interview after two days of intense scrutiny of the hospital. The accreditation team included a physician and a nurse, both with extensive management experience in the medical field and ongoing training as surveyors.
Spencer said there was a lot of excitement among the hospital's staff when they found the report to be "favorable and positive."
Home Health at PRMC underwent a separate scrutiny which ended Friday. The Home Health department will also receive a score.
The Joint Commission surveys hospitals and healthcare agencies which seek accreditation every three years. And there is good reason to seek accreditation.
Those who meet the Joint Commission's standards also meet certain Medicare certification requirements. The accreditation expedites third-party payments and favorably influences liability insurance premiums.
The accreditation also fulfills some state licensing requirements.
Spencer said that PRMC began working toward its 1998 accreditation three years ago.
"We escalated it at the end, as all hospitals tend to do," she said. "It's been a long process to get to this point, and it involved many, many people."
Cleanliness may be next to godliness in the health care field, but the Joint Commission does more than give the hospital the "white glove" treatment.
The surveyors rated PRMC for quality improvement, environment of care, human resource management, information management, patient care, patient rights and organizational ethics, leadership, medical staff, nursing and continuum of care.
There are 500 standards (grouped into performance areas where each is scored) currently listed in the "Accreditation Manual for Hospitals."
JCAHO officials say the hospital's final report will not be available to the public for several months and would not comment on PRMC's preliminary report. They said that a score above 90 without recommendations for improvement qualifies the health care organization for the highest ranking: "accreditation with commendation." It is not yet clear if PRMC's preliminary report calls for any improvements.
The second highest rating is "accreditation," followed by "accreditation with recommendations for improvement."
According to the 1995-to-1997 reports, the majority of those surveyed -- 83 percent -- were accredited with recommendations for improvement. Only 15 percent of the hospitals surveyed were given accreditation with commendation.
With conditional accreditation, which is what PRMC initially received on its 1995 survey, areas of improvement are discussed and a team revisits the hospital within a specific time frame and notes that the changes have been made. PRMC's last performance report was not available at press time, but the hospital did make the necessary changes.
Few fail accreditation
Finally, there is "not accredited." From 1995 through 1997, none of the 18,000 health care organizations in the country seeking accreditation were denied that status by the Joint Commission.
The accreditation is similar to a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval," according to Spencer.
PRMC is one of 80 percent of the nation's hospitals, representing 96 percent of all inpatient admissions, involved in the Joint Commission's accreditation process.
PRMC was not far from the mark this time, and it is a goal the hospital will be working toward for its next accreditation in 2001.
"We didn't have a perfect score, so there's room for improvement," Spencer said.