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Martha Jefferson receives national recognition for breast care program

Martha Jefferson Hospital’s breast cancer treatment program was recognized this fall for its exemplary performance in treatment and care of breast cancer patients. For the first time in the hospital’s history last month it received a three-year certification from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.

The accreditation program, which is made up of hospitals and other health care facilities committed to providing exceptional breast care treatment, surveyed the hospital at the beginning of last month. It surveyed the cancer center’s surgical services, clinical trials, diagnosis techniques, oncological services and a number of other important aspects, said Cancer Program Manager Joyce Miller.

“For us, it’s a good source of quality improvement,” Miller said. “We are making sure we’re comparable [to], and hopefully better, than other programs.”

The process of accreditation is based on 6 standards: center leadership, clinical management, research, community outreach, professional education and quality improvement.

Each component in turn has its own requirements, three of which are known as “critical standards.” If any of these three standards is not met, the program’s application is deferred until all standards are met for 12 months, at which time the program can re-apply. These critical standards require that program leaders are held accountable for all care given and monitor the breast cancer conference frequency, and that a team of doctors from varying disciplines conducts patient care after diagnosis.

To patients, the certification proves that the hospital uses state-of-the-art imaging equipment and appropriate diagnostic techniques and that their carers are nationally-recognized nursing, surgical and rehabilitation staff.

“I think it gives the patients more confidence because [certification] requires us to hit certain standards,” Miller said. “It’s nice to know that this program is solely focused on breast care and women’s health.”