Los Angeles AFB Medical Clinic Earns Gold Seal of Approval

  • Published
  • By James Spellman, Jr.
  • SMC Public affairs

The Joint Commission, an independent, non-profit organization that is the nation’s predominant standard-setting and accrediting body in health care, has awarded full accreditation status to the 61st Medical Squadron’s main clinic in El Segundo, and satellite clinic at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro for three years as a result of an unannounced survey conducted last March.

The Commission’s Accreditation Program Decision for Ambulatory Health Care and Core Certification Program Decision for Primary Care Medical Home are significant milestones for the 61st MDS. In previous years, the medical clinic has been visited by a three-member inspection team from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, a civilian accrediting agency. AAAHC inspects 4,000 ambulatory agencies world-wide, including some Air Force outpatient facilities in the past, checking for their compatibility with civilian health care organizations. 

Recent policy changes by the Air Force Medical Service and the Military Health System now requires unannounced inspections of all military treatment facilities by the Joint Commission, which evaluates and accredits more than 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Since 1951, the Joint Commission has maintained state-of-the-art standards that focus on improving the quality and safety of care provided by health care organizations. 

“The Joint Commission was very impressed with the level of health care services provided by our medical staff. We are right in the same ballpark as the other Air Force medical facilities,” said Col. David Hammiel, 61st Medical Squadron commander. “When you consider our unique operations tempo, exercises and deployments as well as the complexity of our organizational challenges and patient load for what’s considered a small medical clinic in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, this survey was very good, and one we should all be proud of.”

The Joint Commission’s comprehensive accreditation process evaluates an organization’s compliance with these standards and other accreditation requirements. Joint Commission accreditation is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards. 

"Most public and private hospitals in the U.S. are Joint Commission-accredited, since this is acknowledged as the gold standard for external validation that patient care services are effectively managed and professionally administered," explained Lt. Col. Ryan Gassman, 61st MDS deputy clinic commander and administrator.

According to Gassman, the Joint Commission's accreditation carries the recognition that the 61st MDS adheres to the same standards in providing safe patient care that other accredited institutions across the United States, such as Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center adhere to. It also communicates to the medical community nationwide that 61st MDS physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, technical and support staffs meet or exceed standards associated with their roles in patient care.

To earn and maintain the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval, an organization must undergo an on-site, unannounced survey by a Joint Commission survey team at least every three years. Laboratories must be surveyed every two years.

The Joint Commission provides the organization's accreditation decision, the date that accreditation was awarded, and any standards that were cited for improvement. Organizations deemed to be in compliance with all or most of the applicable standards are awarded the decision of Accreditation.

The unannounced full survey is a key component of The Joint Commission accreditation process. "Unannounced means the organization does not receive advance notice of its survey date,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) James Senechal, 61st MDS chief of the medical staff. “The Joint Commission began conducting unannounced surveys in January of 2006. Surveys occur 18 to 39 months after the organization's previous unannounced survey.”

Outpatient services that were surveyed and are available at the 61st MDS clinic include Dentistry, Diagnostic Imaging, Family Health, Aerospace Medicine, Public Health, Mental Health, Optometry, Pediatrics, Laboratory, Pharmacy and Physical Therapy.

The 61st MDS’ latest accreditation results are a matter of public record and accessible at the Joint Commission's public site known as Quality Check®, located at: https://www.qualitycheck.org/quality-report/?keyword=90245&bsnid=577688