Recent developments in the healthcare provision have necessitated the change of approach to health care provision. A shift has been in the quality management. In place of quality assurance, a new criterion has been set by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) called Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI).
In this regard there are a number of areas that the Joint Commission has given to gauge the compliance of an institution to the standards of health care provision.
Among them are leadership, environmental management and human resources standards (JCAHO, 2006). In this paper I am going to look at the management of the environment of care as one of the standards set by the Joint Commission.
Management of the Environment of Care (EC)
What is referred to as the environment of care is the area where the health facility is located. This area has to fulfill a number of things. The facility has to first have a written plan on the management of the safety of its environment with a provision for the position a of a safety coordinator whose duties are clearly spelt out. It shows commitment to a safe health care environment (Huser, 2005).
The environment of care standards also provide that that the organization identifies and manages its security risks. This is done through adherence to the security plan drawn as well as monitoring and control of the entry and exit points within the organization.
There is also a requirement that the organization be in a position to manage waste risks and hazardous material. JCAHO has proposed and number of strategies to achieve this. Among them is a detailed plan to manage the hazardous material and the waste.
This will make the handling of the material an organized and safely executed operation. The facility is also required to keep an inventor of the hazardous material and waste. This will ease tracing of the material when it is time to check on the records (JCAHO, 2006).
There must be space and the appropriate equipment to manage the waste material. This is the only prove one can have that the waste material is properly managed.
The organization must also account for the gasses and the vapor it emits. This is a rather sensitive group of waste. It is not traceable around the compound but with the knowledge of its emission there must be responsibility on how it is handled.
Cases of emergency can pose a great health security risk to the people around the health care facility. Some of the emergencies can be catastrophic (JCAHO, 2006).
To cushion the healthcare seekers from any extreme risks, the health care organization must indicate how prepared it is to handle cases of emergency around the facility. It is of essence that these handling be quick and effective to reduce the possibilities of extreme casualties.
It is a requirement of the JCAHO that any health facility have all the required documentation, permits and licenses (Huser, 2005). This will legalize the operations of the facility and assure authorities of compliance with the requirements of operation.
The organization must also display a high level of manifest management. This means that there must be no breakages in the records. It will allow easy tracing of the material that one may need from the heath facility (JCAHO, 2006). All material and especially hazardous one must be appropriately labeled. It must also be appropriately stored in the right storage equipment and environment.
By environmental tours around the facility the commission will tell whether the facility is maintaining a healthy environment. These tours are random and they give a picture of the environment away from scrutiny. The facility will also carry out regular self assessments.
Critique, Analysis And Adequacy
Due to the sensitivity of the environment of care, it is paramount that the facilities providing health care ensure safety of both the staff and the visitors to the facility. This according to Huser (2005) is a priority for health care providers.
Since the facilities operate within a social environment they must guarantee knowledge and understanding of the potential dangers that lie within the areas of operation. They must anticipate and prepare to respond incase of emergency. T
hus the plan on emergency response and the availability of a safety coordinator are very welcome moves towards ensuring safety in the environment of heath care provision. According to JCAHO (2006), it must be at the topmost priority of the facility management to guarantee the staff and the visitors at all times. The visitors come in search of health and it must be assured.
In recognition of the potential hazards posed by the gases and other vapors proper management is of paramount importance. Huser (2005) sees the management plan as a word on the commitment of the facility management to tackle this as a big step towards securing the environment.
Taken for granted this gases can be more vital that the containers or solids lying about the compound. Emergency response strategy as outlined in the JCAHO will take care of alerts in such occurrences as leakage (Huser, 2005).
The fore mentioned guidelines are an indication of the commitment of the health facility to secure its environment. Commitment to their implementation and adherence will guarantee safety of both the premises and the people within the premises.
A close monitoring by the facility itself and the Joint Commission will assure facility users and the operators, safe working conditions and environment. These are no doubt adequate measurement procedures that will give satisfactory outcome.
1. JCAHO, (2006), Environment of Care Management Plans, 2nd Edition
Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (2). JCAHO: New York
2. Huser, T., (2005), The Environment of Care: a Compliance Guide to the Jcaho’s Management Plans. Boston: BUP