The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday November 27th

SHS Gets High Marks on Preliminary Survey

"We're ecstatic at the preliminary survey findings report," said Bob Wirag, director of Student Health.

JCAHO assigned to SHS a score of one, meaning "substantial compliance," for all except one of its standards. Student Health received a five, meaning "noncompliance," for not posting enough public notice about the review so community members could meet with the evaluators.

Wirag said Student Health officials thought that they were complying with the public notice requirement, as they took the same measures they have taken in successful reviews since 1986.

"We had the notice posted all over Student Health, but we failed to put it in (The Daily Tar Heel)," Wirag said. "Our interpretation was that if it was posted more than 30 days in advance, people that wanted to make appointments (with surveyors) would."

The final accreditation will not occur for 12 to 16 weeks while JCAHO analysts study the results of the survey, said JCAHO spokeswoman Charlene Hill.

But Wirag said he is confident the final results will be similar to those in the preliminary survey.

Hill commended SHS for inviting surveyors. "The fact that this organization voluntarily invited an independent team of evaluators to examine the organization from top to bottom speaks loudly to their credibility," he said.

Hill said only two other Chapel Hill facilities are accredited by JCAHO -- Chapel Hill Surgical Center and Piedmont Health Services. She added that accreditation for ambulatory care centers is especially important because they give short-term treatment and patients often are sent away with unsatisfactory results. "When you think about ambulatory care, you don't stay overnight at the facility," Hill said. "You go in, you get treated, and you go home."

At its last review, in November 1999, JCAHO surveyors told Student Health that it needed to improve its medication use, its strategic planning and its leader's role in improving the ambulatory center's performance to achieve full accreditation, according to the JCAHO Web site. By May 2000, improvement was seen in all of these areas, and Student Health was awarded a score of 95 out of 100.

Wirag said he is confident this review will yield positive results, which he said was a main reason he invited the surveyors back. "It's something that we choose to do every three years because it's like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval," Wirag said. "We want to be part of that pool that is accredited."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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