UNH Health Services easily passes rigorous accreditation

By Shannon Reville
On October 8, 2013

This past February, in order to receive accreditation from the Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) for the fifth consecutive time, UNH Health Services volunteered for an extensive physical examination.

"They came right in and examined all of our business," Dennis Dupuis, coordinator of Quality Improvement and Accreditation, said. "Everything that goes on, they saw."

Accreditation by the AAAHC is not required of UNH Health Services. In fact, they are one of only 61 student health centers that are accredited by the AAAHC, according to the AAAHC website.

 The AAAHC accredits a variety of ambulatory health care organizations - ambulatory meaning that overnight stays are not required. 

This can mean group medical and dental practices, urgent care providers, and even some surgical centers. Though one of the founding organizations of the AAAHC was the American College Health Association, student health centers are only a small piece of what they work on.

Volunteering, and paying,  for the accredited status is part of UNH Health Services' goal to keep their practice up-to-date, competitive and in line with such a changing industry.

"What I learned when I went through school is so far out of date," Dupuis said. "Going through this process allows us to make sure we are on the front edge of a constantly evolving environment."

In total, the AAAHC inspected 622 aspects of UNH Health Services. 

These aspects ranged from administration, quality of care and facilities, to anesthesia services, pharmaceutical services and health education and promotion.  

There was also an "other" category that included some of UNH's additional services, such as acupuncture, massage therapy and nutrition.

Last month, Health Services got the results from its February evaluation. 

The surveyor found all 622 aspects to be "substantially compliant," which is the highest possible rating.

Dupuis credits UNH Health Services' success to its employees. He believes that all the doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, medical assistants and supporting staff members truly love caring for the student population.

"Their lives revolve around students," Dupuis said. "We know when the stress is coming, the exams are coming, the breaks are coming and the concerts are coming. We know what we need to do in order to support students in getting their education. Health providers find a population that they like to care for and try [to] stick with them-that's what you have with the employees here." 

He admitted that because of such a "talented and passionate" staff, accreditation is "actually pretty easy."

"We don't do anything for accreditation, we do it so that we have a good practice. The main goal is not to be accredited; it's to be good. It just so happens that because we are good, we are also accredited," Dupuis said.

There is a quote on the Health Services website from the surveyor, Dr. Thomas E. Lipps. 

Lipps is the occupational medicine director at the Bronson Battle Creek Health System in Battle Creek, Mich.

"I have been doing site visits for over 25 years," Lipps said. "And UNH Health Services is truly one of the best organizations I have surveyed."

Health Services will continue to be of an accredited status for the next three years. After that, Dupuis said, they will certainly look to get accredited again. It is important, Dupuis said, because it shows students that they are getting the very best for their money.

"When [students] walk through the door and see that certificate on the wall, it proves that this place is really top notch," Dupuis said. "And it's not just because I'm telling you we are, it's because a professional stranger, who came in here specifically looking for problems, says that we are."

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