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Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) successfully completed its first survey by the Joint Commission (TJC) last week, TJC surveyors announced during a briefing in WRNMMC's Clark Auditorium last Friday.

The surveyors and WRNMMC Commander, Rear Adm. Alton L. Stocks, commended Walter Reed Bethesda staff for the successful survey, which evaluated the hospital's quality of health care and efficiency of administrative procedures, leading to its full accreditation.

"I congratulate you on a successful Joint Commission survey," said Dr. Marvin Kolb, TJC survey team leader that assessed WRNMMC. A fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Physician Executives, Kolb said, "from every patient experience to every interaction with staff, we felt and heard that what you do matters. We thank you for your commitment. It's world-class."

Kolb said there was "not one finding" in patient care areas at WRNMMC during the TJC survey, patient tracers "looked thoroughly under every rock. We did not find any standards out of compliance related to care provided to patients. They were superb."

He said there were some observations related to the environment of care, utility systems in regards to ventilation, and sterile processing within some activities, but overall, the hospital did exceptionally well on the survey, its first since the former National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) and the formerWalter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) integrated in September 2011 to form WRNMMC.

Both of those medical centers "had outstanding track records and successful surveys" before integration, Stocks said. NNMC was surveyed in November 2010 and WRAMC in April 2011. In addition, NNMC had a TJC one-day extension survey in April 2011. All health-care organizations, other than laboratories, are subject to a three-year accreditation cycle by TJC.

"When we came together, we could have asked for an extension of the survey," Stocks said. "We didn't do that, we asked for the Joint Commission to come back early because we were proud of what we did, and it was a challenge. Not only did you knock it out of the park, but you knocked it out of the park under really arduous, difficult and challenging conditions. This has got to be one of the proudest moments of my career. I can't thank you enough."

"We should always be ready to provide safe and high quality care for our patients and their families," said Gene Monroe, WRNMMC Joint Commission specialist. "The Joint Commission standards help us to accomplish that. Each time our staff demonstrates how they safely provide high quality care, and how they partner with the patient and their family in the planning of their care consistently, then we've gone a long way to staying continuously survey ready."

Col. Charles Callahan, WRNMMC chief of staff, agreed. In an e-mail to staff last week, he stated, "maintaining that 'edge' is how we will know we are truly successful. We won't really know whether all of our efforts have been successful until we get a month, or two, or six out from the survey, the facility looks like it does today, the staff is just as engaged, and the processes of our practice have been honed and refined to provide even higher quality, more accessible and convenient care for our patients.

"If we can take this same level of continuous, sustained focus on the patient and the patient experience by taking ownership and caring for our people, our practice and the place we work, and building on it as the foundation of our culture of excellence, then we will know that we have been successful," Callahan added.

The Joint Commission is a U.S.-based non-profit organization that surveys more than 19,000 health-care organizations and programs in the United States for possible accreditation. According to its website, TJC's mission is "to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value."

TJC's vision is for "all people [to] always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings," according to the TJC website.

Although the TJC provides organizations with their accreditation decision, specific findings and recommendations from surveys are not made public, Monroe explained. Organizations deemed to be in compliance with all or most of the applicable standards, such as WRNMMC, are awarded the decision of Accreditation.