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Accreditation ushers in new era for Health Services

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 12:00am
Reporter: Christian Marnon

Only 5 percent of college health facilities nationwide have been accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, and WKU Health Services has joined their ranks.

As of Nov. 8, 2012, Health Services achieved accreditation from the AAAHC, marking the end of a three-year application process, and on Tuesday they threw a reception to celebrate.

The AAAHC is an organization which develops standards and offers voluntary surveys for outpatient health care facilities.

The survey AAAHC provides is a comprehensive checklist which ensures facilities are maintaining high standards.

At the reception, Vicky Rosa, executive director of Health Services, said she keeps the AAAHC survey in a large binder on her bookshelf, which contains over 100 pages of requirements.

“The binder is representative of how hard we have worked for accreditation,” Rosa said.

Lab Manager Monisa Wright said her contribution required a thorough understanding of the AAAHC standards.

“I had to have a working knowledge of everything,” she said. “During the summer, each staff member had to present their assigned chapter of the survey to everyone else.”

The AAAHC Accreditation Handbook requires the applicant to be compliant in eight standards, some of which include quality management and improvement, facilities and environment, patient rights, government and administration.

Rosa is proud to have met these standards, but said there is still much work to be done.

“The accreditation process resets every three years and new standards are added annually,” she said. “Starting this summer, we have to look at what’s required by AAAHC for 2013 and 2014.”

The ‘government’ standard of AAAHC required Health Services to establish a governing body, Rosa said.

“In order to ensure every area was covered, we have established five new areas of expertise...” she said. “This led us to hire new people and to shift existing employees into areas where they were best equipped.”

Ann Mead, vice president for Finance and Administration, said that Health Services has had to adapt to growth.

“No one expected Health Services to grow by 40 percent in four years,” she said. “Our whole focus has been managing growth for a $2.5 million business with now over 30 employees.”

The AAAHC suggested Health Services continue expansion, Rosa said.

“We’re trying to grow our faculty and provide more services while considering cost efficiency for students,” Rosa said.

Mead said that the Health Services building also needs an extension.

“We already have had several preliminary meetings with Planning, Design and Construction to discuss our options,” Mead said.

Architectural additions are one of many obstacles Health Services must consider moving forward, Mead said.

“Health Services has been a tremendous success over the past four years because students like the convenience,” she said. “We have to understand patient needs, consider what services campus wants and address alternative health care options.”

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