Alexian Brothers Health System has earned Disease- Specific Care Certification from The Joint Commission for the system's commitment to excellence in 13 disease management programs. In recognition of the achievement, The Joint Commission has awarded its Gold Seal of ApprovalTM for health-care quality to each of the programs. Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital in Hoffman Estates, Ill., became the first hospital in the nation to win certification in four separate psychiatric specialties: depression, chemical dependency, eating disorders and self injury.
Meanwhile, Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, Ill., and St.Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates each earned certification for their congestive heart failure, joint replacement, oncology and bariatric surgery programs. The Joint Commission also certified Alexian Brothers Medical Center's acute myocardial infarction (heart-attack) program. Each of the disease management programs underwent an extensive, unannounced on-site evaluation by a team of reviewers from The Joint Commission, which announced the results early this year.
Two years ago, The Joint Commission certified the stroke programs at Alexian Brothers Medical Center and St.Alexius. The certifications mean that ABHS "does the right things and does them well" for patients in the certified disease management programs, says Jean E. Range, The Joint Commission's Executive Director, Disease-Specific Care Certification. ABHS voluntarily pursued the certifications "to enhance the safety and quality of the care we provide," says Diana Woytko,Vice President, Patient Safety and Quality, for ABHS. "We're proud to achieve this distinction. It makes a statement to the community that we take quality of care seriously." More important, though, was the amount of learning that occurred as ABHS teams prepared their disease management programs for The Joint Commission's evaluations.
For about nine months, each team thoroughly examined its program's structure and processes, comparing them against best practices and identifying strengths and areas for improvement. This process increased interaction among ABMC and St.Alexius teams examining the same disease management programs at their respective hospitals." They were working together across both acute-care facilities, with learning from each facility to the other," says Woytko, who credits Barb Swanson, ABHS Director of Accreditation, for orchestrating the certification efforts. Examples of enhancements that resulted from these efforts include:
- PET scans for all patients newly diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer." Through this indicator,we can significantly improve the decision-making process for treatment for the patient and family," says Karen Munter, Oncology Project Manager.
- New protocols that have enabled heart-attack victims requiring emergency angioplasty to receive the treatment faster than they did in the past at ABMC.
- Increased education and testing for nurses and patient-care technicians who care for bariatric-surgery patients,with certain staff members acting as resources on bariatric issues for their peers. In addition, all ABMC and St. Alexius staff members must take an obesity-sensitivity class.
- Improved educational materials for ABBHH patients with major depressive disorder.
- Additional heart-failure education for nurses.
"It was all about going through the process, "Woytko says." That's what impressed The Joint Commission - the facts and data that were gathered and analyzed and the actions that were taken." The teams will continue to measure their programs' progress, relaying information about improvements to The Joint Commission one year after the programs' initial certifications.The programs must undergo an on-site review by The Joint Commission every two years to be considered for re-certification.