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Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) completed a successful on-site review of its oncology program by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC) on March 29.

“The importance of this survey is that this is our first since integration,” said Navy Capt. Ralph C. Jones, Cancer Committee Chair at WRNMMC. “Overall, this couldn’t have gone any better.”

The CoC was established by the American College of Surgeons in 1922 to ensure quality, multidisciplinary and comprehensive care delivery in health care settings, according to CoC officials. Its membership is composed of surgeons representing the American College of Surgeons, or representatives from the 49 national, professional organizations or member organizations, affiliated with the CoC.

“The Commission on Cancer accreditation is the standard all great programs seek,” Jones explained. “In the U.S. and territories, 25 percent of hospitals are CoC approved, and nearly 80 percent of all U.S. cancers are treated in CoC approved hospitals.”

The CoC survey is triennial, and the former National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) was approved with commendation by the CoC on June 10, 2009. The former Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s (WRAMC) oncology program was also an approved program with commendation, Jones added.

“WRAMC stood down their cancer program in April 2011. NNMC stood down their cancer program in September 2011, [and] WRNMMC stood up a new cancer committee in October 2011,” he continued.

Jones further explained that the CoC is “dedicated to reducing the morbidity and mortality of cancer through education, standard setting and the monitoring of quality care.”

Dr. Frederick L. Greene, a CoC surveyor since 1997, spent all of last March 29 reviewing the WRNMMC oncology program. A general surgeon, Greene is a past chair of the CoC and American Joint Committee on Cancer. He reviewed WRNMMC’s cancer program’s institutional and programmatic resources; cancer committee leadership; cancer data management and registry operations; clinical management; research; community outreach; professional education and staff support and quality improvement. He also evaluated the program’s inpatient and outpatient cancer services.

“This is a marvelous facility and we should all be proud of it,” Greene said. “I’m especially proud of it being former military and the job that this institution is doing in cancer care. It’s a pleasure and I’m proud to have this as part of our Commission on Cancer as one of our 1,500 hospitals.”

Greene added that all areas on the WRNMMC’s oncology program “stood out” during the on-site review, but the registry “stands out as an excellent example of what a registry should be, especially in the fact that now two hospital have joined to create this registry. The attitude and enthusiasm of the cancer committee really stands out to me,” he added.

Jones also commended the pathology section.

“Of the charts Dr. Greene pulled and reviewed, we were 100 percent on requirements for registry and pathology,” Jones said.

Jones and JoAnna Kruse, manager of Cancer Registry at WRNMMC, explained that much of the survey was done online prior to Greene’s on-site review.

“Basically, all the documentation for the 36 accreditation standards had to be compiled and entered into the survey application record,” Kruse said, adding that supporting documents pertaining to each standard also needed to be uploaded into the system. “It covers all three years and is quite in-depth. In the past, we created binders for each year, but now it’s all done via the website.”

Jones added that the WRNMMC oncology program is “gold” in all areas and has met criteria for commendation in all areas achievable.

“There is a special category of ‘outstanding’ that only 10 percent of the programs receive,” Jones continued. “This is especially significant as academic programs like ours represent only a few in the outstanding category, since it is the toughest.”

Jones said final results of the survey won’t be revealed for three or four weeks, “but overall, this couldn’t have gone any better.”