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CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — After some 20 inspectors from three federal agencies descended on U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa last month to survey everything from operating room procedures to mental health programs for kids, staff members said, the hospital retained its full accreditation status with flying colors.

But the really big deal, they said, was that the inspection outcomes were no big deal — just the result of doing business as usual.

“We’re not ever preparing for our next survey,” said Navy Lt. Tamara Koch. “We’re preparing for our next patient. This is not something you can fake; this is something you do day-in and day-out … like second nature.”

Inspecting the hospital Jan. 21-27, staff members said, were:

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, or JCAHO, which evaluated compliance with national and Navy standards.The Navy Medical Inspector General’s office, which inspected Navy-specific programs.A Medical Occupational Safety and Health team, which looked at areas such as industrial hygiene and staff and patient safety.“Safety was recognized for the second inspection in a row as a flawless program,” said Lt. Cmdr. Antony Joseph, Community Health director.

Navy Capt. Jan Carrio, director of Nursing Services, said staffers’ outstanding performance “speaks highly to the compliance of national standards and Navy medical programs.”

Added Cmdr. Kerri Pegg, Quality Management department head: “We’ve been pulling all together. We’re a very complete facility.”

Hospital staffers said inspectors’ comments included: “The Child Mental Health Program is really great” and “I know exactly what should be happening in an OR and it is certainly happening in yours.”

Pegg said the two JCAHO inspectors, one a physician and the other a nurse, dealt with both providers and patients to ensure all health-care standards were met.

“They will pick a patient and follow them all the way through their care,” Koch said.

Carrio said one surveyor even followed a patient into the operating room and continued monitoring until the patient was discharged later that day.

Navy Medical IG team members, resident experts in the areas they inspect, use a standard checklist to take a look at the details of hospital operations, said Cmdr. Jeanmarie Jonston, head of the Healthcare Operations department.

The surveyors also inspected the various branch medical clinics to make sure they were in compliance, Carrio said.

“We’re here to support the warfighter,” Jonston said, “and that’s what we do best. And we’re here to support their family members.” Servicemembers, she said, “shouldn’t have to worry” about family members’ health care “when deployed to places like Iraq — and here they don’t.”

Carrio said the inspections let the hospital show that all patients, civilian and military, are receiving care under the same standards as stateside hospitals.

The inspectors can return unannounced at any time. When asked how she would respond if they did, Koch said, “Bring it on.”


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