When the budget for the portion of the Health & Welfare Department that includes State Hospital North came up this morning, some members of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee wondered why it included $40,000 for an accreditation analysis. Last year, JFAC asked State Hospital North to get accredited, and it’s still not. Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, wondered what the state gets for the $40,000. Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, a physician, had a detailed answer. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, or JCAHO (pronounced “jay-co), has a detailed process it will go through to identify needed improvements in policies, procedures and practices at the hospital to meet accreditation standards, from patient care to management to expenditures. Making those improvements upfront will be much cheaper than going through a detailed accreditation and failing, Wood said. “If they don’t, the chances of failure are extremely high, and there’s a period of time in which they cannot reapply.”
Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, who serves on the advisory board for State Hospital North, agreed, and said it’s important to get the accreditation. “Having JCAHO accreditation will help them attract the kinds of employees that they need,” she said, and is “one of the things that doctors look at” when considering employment. “I really feel that this is a step in the right direction, and that the state should support this.” JFAC voted unanimously to approve the budget proposal, including the $40,000 – recognizing that there could be a cost of $100,000 to $200,000 the following year for the actual accreditation process.
As he made his argument, Wood told the committee, “In the 30 years that I’ve been in the practice of medicine, I’ve gone through about 10 to 12 JFAC inspections.” Senate Finance Chair Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, interjected, “Not JFAC inspections.” “JCAHO inspections,” Wood corrected.
Incidentally, the State Hospital South has JCAHO accreditation.