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Why Bother with Being Accredited?

October 31, 2011

Submitted by Lisa A. Yackel, CVPM, PHR
Hospital Administrator at Case Veterinary Hospital

My work day started at 6:00am on Wednesday, October 12, 2011. It was the accumulation of months of work preparing for our re-accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association. The evaluator was due to arrive at 7:30am and I wanted to make sure everything was ready for her. When you are a veterinary hospital with a full hospital ward and boarding, mornings are always unpredictable. I wanted to make sure we had no smells, no hair, and no dirty cages. Not an easy task as cleaning and patient care is always ongoing in our hospital.
We have been an AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited member since 1982. This certainly was not my first inspection since coming to Case Veterinary Hospital in 1991 and I had actually been evaluated by this same inspector on two previous visits. That being said, the process was no less stressful or unnerving.
I knew we were prepared. Our whole healthcare team had been working diligently for months. There are over 900 standards that must be evaluated and considered to pass the process. I had personally gone through each of them three or four times, written and reviewed numerous protocols, and educated the team on changes that needed to be made. Dr. Case McCorvey, as our Medical Director, had also painstakenly gone through the standards and confirmed whether we were in compliance. As we are evaluated every three years, most of the standards are part of our everyday life at the hospital but there are always newer, higher standards to strive for. This ensures that hospitals are always updating their skills and medical protocols as well as enforcing them on a daily basis to ensure consistent quality and standards of care for our patients.
The American Animal Hospital Association is the only organization that accredits small animal hospitals throughout the U.S. and Canada. AAHA-accredited hospitals voluntarily choose to be evaluated. My internal mantra that morning at 6:00am was, “This is voluntary, and why am I (we) going through this rigorous process?”
“Veterinary practices choose to become AAHA-accredited for a myriad of reasons, including the desire to improve practice operations and team building, update their skills, enhance their credibility with clients and strive for continuous improvement. Approximately 3,200 veterinary hospitals in the United States and Canada have made a commitment to meeting the highest standards of veterinary care.” This statement is straight out of the AAHA informational brochures and website http://www.healthypet.com/Accreditation/StandardArticle.aspx?art_key=67932ead-979d-4686-84a6-00ed068d4f35.
They also quote, “Choosing an AAHA-accredited hospital assures pet owners that the hospital they select has the staff, equipment, medical procedures and facilities that AAHA believes are vital for delivering high-quality pet care.” And, hence, I have my answer to the mantra that was going on in my head. We are doing this because we believe strongly in pushing ourselves and our healthcare team to be the best we can be. Because We Are Family rings true in this situation as it does in so many other ways at our hospital. We have served Savannah for over 102 years as a family business that cares for our team as family and cares for our patients and their owners as we would our own family. The whole AAHA accreditation process validates our commitment. And, yes, I am proud to say, we passed with flying colors!

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