Louisiana hospital executives took their turn to air their accreditation views at a July 7 meeting with Dennis O'Leary, M.D., president of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
"Our goal was to send the message that if the JCAHO doesn't start fixing things soon, it'll start losing hospitals," said John Matessino, vice president of the Louisiana Hospital Association. "Dr. O'Leary received that message."
At the request of the LHA and the Metropolitan Hospital Council of New Orleans, Dr. O'Leary met with top executives from about one-third of the LHA's 148 hospital members in New Orleans.
Cathy Barry-Ipema, the JCAHO's communications director, described the meeting as highly constructive, adding that the JCAHO "always enjoys an opportunity to meet with hospital executives to discuss their concerns."
It was the latest in a series of personal visits Dr. O'Leary is making to state hospital associations whose members are upset with the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based accrediting agency.
In a span of less than three weeks,Dr. O'Leary has gone one-on-one with hospital executives in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana at meetings that were arranged by the hospital associations in those states (July 4, p. 4).
"Our membership pushed us to invite Dr. O'Leary," said Jack Finn, president of the New Orleans hospital council. "They've been frustrated by their inability to communicate in a meaningful way with the JCAHO. They feel they get little response to their concerns."
Mr. Matessino said Louisiana hospitals have many of the same concerns as hospitals in other states. Those concerns include the value of accreditation vs. its costs; the variability in accreditation standards, standards interpretation and accreditation surveyors; and the usefulness of the JCAHO's clinical indicator program.
Messrs. Matessino and Finn said they were pleased with how the meeting went with Dr. O'Leary, and their member hospital executives were glad to hear Dr. O'Leary acknowledge that the JCAHO has problems that need to be addressed.
"The meeting didn't solve anything, but it got the ball rolling," Mr. Matessino said.