78th MDG earns high ratings in week-long inspections

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  • By Holly Birchfield
  • 78 ABW/PA
The 78th Medical Group is celebrating after receiving the results from two recent inspections.

The group, which underwent the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Healthcare and the Health Services inspections Aug. 13-17, came out as one of just two Air Force medical treatment facilities to earn a score of 93 in the last two years on the HSI and has high hopes for a full three-year accreditation for the AAAHC.

Ten HSI inspectors came from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and three AAAHC inspectors came from areas nationwide to conduct the week-long inspections. Two over-the-shoulder observers, one from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and one from Brooks City-Base, Texas, joined the group in the inspection process.

Lt. Col. Lola Casby, chief nurse executive in the 78th MDG since July 2006, said the AAAHC inspection is held once every three years and is conducted by a civilian agency that ensures the attainment of high-quality care in an organization providing healthcare services in an ambulatory setting.

The HSI, which is also conducted every three years, is an inspection given by an active-duty agency that assesses the ability of the Air Force medical units to fulfill their peace-time and war-time missions, Colonel Casby said.

Col. Jim McClain, 78th MDG commander since June 2006, said the AAAHC inspection assesses the medical group's ability to meet medical and clinical standards nation-wide.

"One area the AAAHC looks at is standard of care," he said. "In other words, they make sure the 78th MDG is meeting the national standards when they do any kind of procedure, treatment, or have any interaction (with patients)."

The colonel said safety, population health and meeting customers' needs are other large factors in the AAAHC inspection.

Colonel McClain said the HSI is part of the Air Force Inspection Agency which makes sure the medical group meets all of the criteria, some clinical and some not, with the focus of ensuring the medical group is meeting its home station and war-time missions, to include homeland security.

The colonel said several factors are considered in the HSI as well.

"On the HSI side of the house, they look, of course, at similar clinical situation dynamics," he said. "They look at our Public Health office, bioenvironmental engineering, medical readiness, training and individual medical readiness."

Colonel McClain said the group is also rated on a scale from zero to four for its level of compliance in different areas.

"Another very exciting piece to this for the HSI is that each area they evaluate can get a score from zero to four," he said. "A zero basically means that you had a programmatic failure, which is very bad. A four means that you are fully compliant. What's nice to know is that of all of the inspection areas, we received only fours and threes."

Colonel McClain said it's rare for a medical treatment facility to not receive any ones or twos, which strengthens the 78th MDG's excellent rating.

Both inspections take a thorough look at the medical group's facilities which span five physical locations on base, Colonel McClain said.

"The inspection looks at every aspect of our operations," he said. "There is really no area that doesn't have some area of focus. What's important to note is that there are over 700 specific criteria that the inspectors look at. Within those 700 criteria, there are over 1,700 specific testable details. So, it's a very comprehensive inspection, very complex, very dynamic."

The 78th MDG earned 93 out of a possible 100 points in the HSI, giving the medical group an "excellent" rating in the inspection. Colonel McClain said the score was a rare feat for any Air Force medical treatment facility.

"On the HSI, we're very proud that we scored a 93 out of 100 possible points, which is the highest rating in the 'excellent' category," he said. "(If) we (had) scored a 94, it would've been an 'outstanding.' Actually, excellent (ratings) are hard to get."
Col. Steven Fenzl, Air Force Inspection Agency team chief, said he doesn't recall giving an 'outstanding' rating for about three years.

While the civilian team doesn't leave a definitive score for the AAAHC inspection for the medical group, the 78th MDG commander is highly confident that the group will earn a full three-year accreditation once it receives its AAAHC inspection report in about 45 days.

Colonel McClain said his team worked for about a year to prepare for the massive inspections, and that hard work has now paid off.

"Obviously, everyone in the 78th MDG is very, very excited about the results we've received," he said. "We believe it's a huge recognition for the hard work and dedication that's gone on, not just within the last year, but for the last three years in this unit. Everyone is very excited. We're going to use this now to become even better in the future."

Colonel McClain said the medical group's performance is a springboard for developing even more long-term sustainment of its quality practices.

Colonel Casby said the team couldn't have achieved great ratings without the teamwork that is characteristic of the group.

According to Colonel Fenzl, the 78th MDG's score was the highest the inspection team had given to date in 2007 out of 19 Air Force medical treatment facilities that have been inspected so far.

Colonel McClain said he hopes the group is as proud of their work as he is.

"I am personally proud of every member of the 78th MDG for their dedication and commitment to providing quality healthcare to our beneficiaries," he said. "It excites me to know that we have such a wonderful team of professionals at the 78th MDG."