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Your #1 Coronavirus Question, Answered

Q: I am concerned about maintaining our facility’s accreditation status because, in response to COVID, we have made some changes in the way we provide health care that might not be in alignment with the NCCHC standards. Can you clarify?

A: Over the past months, NCCHC has received many similar questions about compliance with standards during the pandemic. Many accredited facilities share your concerns.

While we understand the challenges of providing health care during this time and know that care may have been interrupted during the pandemic, there are a few keys to success when thinking about the future and getting beyond the coronavirus crisis.

Here’s how correctional leaders can begin navigating what’s next as you think about accreditation or reaccreditation.

  • Decisions about resource allocation should be made at the system level in alignment with your emergency response plan.
  • Standards are the backbone of a health services delivery system; therefore, no standards are “waived.”  The key to success is to document the reasons for all deviations to health care plans and resume normal operations as soon as safely feasible.
  • Document your response to the crisis in a thorough and thoughtful manner. Be clear when services deviated from the plan and when they are anticipated to get back on track. Document your triage plan when providing care: who can wait, and why? Document, document, document.
  • Document your contingency plans when needing to provide emergency medical or dental care.
  • Follow national guidelines like those of the CDC for guidance on care protocols during a pandemic. Keep these guidelines as part of your documentation to support your rationale.
  • Think beyond coronavirus and what the path to normal looks like. Document when services resumed and how you went about assessing patients and addressing the backlog of health service needs.

NCCHC surveyors are experienced correctional health care professionals who know what you are going through; many have been through similar crises themselves. They will consider the unusual circumstances you are facing and the adjustments you are having to make.

We understand the changes made to your health care delivery system were in order to respond to vulnerable populations while also actively working to reduce potential exposure to the virus.

Thank you for the amazing patient care you are delivering during these challenging times.

Amy Panagopoulos, MBA, BSN, is NCCHC’s vice president of accreditation. Jim Martin, MPSA, CCHP, is NCCHC’s vice president of program development.

 

 

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