October 31, 2003

Gannett Gets Re-Accredited

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When students walk inside the building conveniently situated next to the Straight, lollipops on the reception desk greet them. They have arrived at Gannett: Cornell University Health Services, which was recently awarded re-accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care Inc. in recognition of its achievement of nationally recognized health care standards.

In order to gain re-accreditation, a team composed of a University health service physician and an ambulatory care facility administrator surveyed all of Gannett’s patient care facilities and services. The thorough survey is one that few university health care centers go through, but, in the words of Nianne Van Fleet, associate director for nursing and clinical services and coordinator of the accreditation effort, the process is important because “we need to show we meet benchmarks.”

Ongoing Effort

For Gannett administrators, the accreditation effort is an ongoing one, but preparations were especially hectic in the last few days before the survey team for accreditation arrived.

“It was two days of running shoes,” Van Fleet said.

The frantic last-minute preparation, as well as Gannett’s continuous self-improvements, were understandable. The accreditation survey team included building inspectors, walkthroughs, patient advocacy inspectors and surveys filled out by Cornell students. In addition to this, the credentials and continuing education of Gannett’s staff were reviewed along with the fairness of staff treatment and records of patient visits. The team truly “checked every nook and cranny,” Van Fleet said.

However, the extensive evaluations were worth the time because “you’re doing it because you want the quality to be seen by any patient or parent who walks through the door,” said Sharon Dittman, associate director of community relations at Gannett.

In addition to meeting all-encompassing Quality Improvement projects, the accreditation survey team “expects you to keep developing and growing,” according to Dittman. Gannett’s efforts to did not go unnoticed by the survey team.

“They were impressed with our integration. We aim to work cross-disciplinarily,” Dittman said.

Despite Gannett’s pride in their recent re-accreditation, the health service provider is not resting on its laurels. Gannett heavily relies on patient feedback in continual self-improvement projects. In particular, the patient advocacy program at Gannett is undergoing major development.

“If a patient has a need that goes beyond what they know how to ask for, we are committed to learning from that and responding to the person. We always look to see if there is anything we can do differently,” Dittman said.

Archived article by Sarah Van Duyn