72nd Med Group achieves 3-year accreditation

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

With a vision to empower Airmen delivering patient-centered, mission-focused trusted care, the 72nd Medical Group enables medically fit forces, provides expeditionary medics and improves the health and wellness of Team Tinker.

A large outpatient clinic facility and an Air Force medical home, the Medical Group employees 530 medics, delivering primary care to over 17,000 people while also delivering specialty and pharmacy care to 63,000 in the Oklahoma City Area.

72nd Medical Group Commander Col. Chris Grussendorf explained the Air Force’s medical service is centered on trusted care - delivering high quality, safe care. With a quest for zero harms to patients and staff, the commander emphasized the importance of customer service and patient centered care.

72nd Medical Group Commander Col. Chris Grussendorf explained the Air Force’s medical service is centered on trusted care – delivering high quality, safe care. With a quest for zero harms in the workforce, the commander emphasized the importance of customer service and attention to patient.

In February, The Joint Commission, an independent, non-profit organization that accredits and certifies nearly 210,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, came to survey the 72nd Medical Group’s facility, measuring beyond the scope of quality patient care. With 1,187 standards that are subject to inspection, one administrative and one clinical surveyor went through standard after standard, over the course of two days. They focused on a multitude of arenas such as environment of care, medical management, provision of care and follow-up, records management and health literacy. The survey resulted in recommendations and constructive feedback on only 19 standards out of 1,187, garnering a three-year accreditation.

“We work hard to achieve trusted care. Our own Air Force standards drive us to meet high standards, but the external benchmark of The Joint Commission standards provides us with other opportunities to improve and validates our efforts,” said Col. Chris Grussendorf

Michaelle Gordon, a Clinical Care and Risk Management officer in the Med Group spearheaded the charge in achieving accreditation. Retired military, Gordon has participated in inspections but had never led the charge. A year prior to the inspection at Tinker, Gordon was permitted to be an observer, giving her an opportunity to evaluate how surveys are conducted and what to expect from them. Noting the option to observe as pivotal in taking a different approach to inspection, Gordon and her team of flight chiefs developed a database and designated a champion for each area of inspection. Confining the scope, she said, allowed for a more concentrated effort, one thing at a time rather than an influx of information at once.

“Being able to observe a survey outside the realm of the 72nd Medical Group was very beneficial,” Gordon said. “We didn’t want to put the staff in a state of inspection, so we focused on one chapter at a time before merging everything altogether.”

Another difference in approach was having flight chiefs and subject matter experts assigned to more foreign arenas. This kept from a pre-conceived idea of “how it should be,” which allowed more opportunity for growth and collaboration.

“This has been the most cohesive approach we’ve done and we have produced successful results,” Gordon added. “As we continue to improve, patients will systematically receive improvement in trusted, quality patient care.”

After the initial survey that was conducted in February, the Medical Group now remains in a status of continued compliance with The Joint Commission. Providing that external partnership, the commission will continue to offer constructive feedback and recommendations through their guidance of quality safety and customer service, giving the Med Group updates as to where they are, where they want to go and how to achieve that milestone of achieving accreditation.

“They partner with us to help us continue to improve, which ultimately improves the quality of care we provide to our patients,” Grussendorf said. “We all have blind spots, and they help us identify areas where we can best improve our health care practices. That fresh perspective is extremely beneficial.”

Colonel Grussendorf hit home on the point that the partnership with the 72nd Medical Group and The Joint Commission is key. Teaming up with civilian health care institutions helps achieve the trusted care goal, which is paramount.

“We want to continue to make this place safer and achieve zero harms, everyone deserves that from us,” Grussendorf said.

The whole process is centered on process improvement. For more information or to provide feedback to the Medical Group, send comments or questions to 72mdg.patient.advocate@us.af.mil.