March 20, 2007

Student Health Center earns re-accreditation

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Student Health Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale recently achieved another top rating from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care.

The AAAHC gave the center its highest level of accreditation status, noting the program achieved substantial compliance with its standards in all areas. The association accredits more than 1,300 health care entities across the country. The accreditation means student health services at SIUC meet rigorous national standards, said Cheryl Presley, director of the University's Student Health Center.

"This time was really special because it was the first one in our new building," said Presley, referring to Student Health Programs' move last year to its new 57,000-square-foot home at 374 E. Grand Ave. "We'd always received good reviews in the past, but they always noted the constraints we were under. The new building removed those obstacles."

Student Health applies for re-accreditation every three years, with this most recent review good through December 2009. This is the fifth consecutive re-accreditation for Student Health. The accreditation follows a self-assessment application process, followed by a two-day on-site visit by a team of specially trained doctors who have full access to the health program's people and records and perform a series of spot checks to verify their quality, Presley said.

The AAAHC looks at 155 categories in 24 major parameters ranging from items such as administration to quality of care, quality improvement, record keeping, urgent care, laboratory, radiology and pharmacy, among others.

Presley said the examination is extremely thorough, but the more than 150 employees came through with flying colors.

"They even looked at all the expiration dates on fire extinguishers," Presley said. "It was a two-day visit and they had total access to everything."

Student Health previously operated in two buildings on Greek Row on the SIUC campus' far west side. The new $9.6 million Student Health Center features sustainable architecture and all cork floors, among other features, which makes it easier on health care workers who spend most of the day on their feet. Presley said the building has had a major impact on service since its completion in 2006.

"It has greatly enabled better continuity of care," she said. "For instance, if someone breaks their leg we can take an x-ray, cast them and send them right over to physical therapy and get them walking on crutches. It's all here under one roof. It's really wonderful."