Wilkes-Barre General Hospital recently earned some bragging rights when it was the first hospital in Luzerne County, and only the second in the state and the seventh in the nation, to earn accreditation from an independent national organization in hip, knee and shoulder replacement surgery.
The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs nationwide, approved the accreditation after conducting an unannounced, on-site survey.
The other Pennsylvania hospital to receive the accreditation was Regional Hospital of Scranton, which, like Wilkes-Barre General, is a Commonwealth Health hospital.
A team of Joint Commission surveyors evaluated the orthopedic program for compliance with standards of care specific to the needs of patients, including infection prevention and control, leadership and medication management, according to Wilkes-Barre General spokeswoman Renita Fennick.
Dr. William Charlton, of Orthopaedic Consultants, Kingston, an orthopedic surgeon with the hospital, said the accreditation of the two area orthopedic programs is evidence that patients do not have to leave the area for quality care.
“I’ve always been curious why people leave the area,” he said. “This (accreditation) is something people can see.”
In a released statement, Cor Catena, chief executive officer of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and Commonwealth Health, echoed that remark.
“In fact, why would you leave? The only two accredited hospitals for these delicate operations are right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
The seal of approval of The Joint Commission is the gold standard in the health care industry, an internationally recognized symbol of health care quality, Catena said.
Charlton said the orthopedic program provides patients with consistent care in which administrators, surgeons, nurses and others involved work together.
Charlton, who does the majority of shoulder replacements, said the hospital has nine orthopedic surgeons, each of whom does several hundred procedures a year.
Fennick noted the accreditation process encompasses thousands of quality and safety measures in various hospital departments, and helps to promote continuous, systematic improvement among health care organizations. Hospitals are visited unannounced, and undergo an on-site survey by a team of Joint Commission experts that includes administrators, physicians, nurses and other health care professionals.
The hospital’s orthopedic team is headed by Judy Ragukas, clinical director; Heather Proctor, clinical leader, and Mary Carol Montagna, orthopedic care navigator.