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Niagara Health earns exemplary standing from Accreditation Canada

Posted Jan 22nd, 2024

Accreditation Logo and Niagara Health logo

Niagara Health has received the highest-possible level of accreditation for the third consecutive time.

Accreditation Canada, which works with health, social and community services organizations to advance quality and safety, has accredited Niagara Health with exemplary standing for meeting all of its required organizational practices in its commitment to ensure safe, quality care for patients and their families.

“As we continue to navigate the overwhelming pressures on our healthcare system, I’m so proud of all that Team Niagara Health has continued to accomplish,” says Lynn Guerriero, Niagara Health President and CEO. “Thanks to everyone’s amazing teamwork, Niagara Health has earned exemplary standing from Accreditation Canada, the highest level of accreditation possible. Surveyors were very impressed with our commitment to providing a high quality of care during these extraordinary times.”

The Exemplary Standing decision comes after surveyors spent a week at Niagara Health sites in November, meeting with care and administration teams and patient partners, reviewing policies and practices, and considering Niagara Health’s ongoing commitment to safe and quality care by participating in continuous quality improvement activities and assessments.

Some of the highlights Accreditation Canada surveyors noted about Niagara Health were:

  • passionate and engaged staff and physicians, and strong collaboration among teams and a strong focus on patient safety;
  • a culture of caring and commitment to patients and quality improvement;
  • strong community partnerships; and
  • a demonstrated patient-centered, collaborative approach to care.

Key to those community partnerships and patient-centred, collaborative approach to care, are Niagara Health’s Patient Partners through the Niagara Health Engagement Network (NHEN). Patient Partners volunteer their time by sharing experiences and perspectives that contribute to meaningful improvements in the quality and safety of care, and enhance the patient experience at Niagara Health.

Patient Partners help Niagara Health achieve Accreditation success

In their final report, surveyors noted the high engagement of Patient Partners in short, targeted projects and longer-term committee engagement assignments that impact everything from strategic planning to learning opportunities for Niagara Health teams.

“These are authentic, genuine relationships we have with Patient Partners and we rely on their feedback and experience as we focus on patient- and family-centred care across Niagara Health,” says Robert Cosby, Niagara Health’s Director of Patient Experience. “Their involvement validated some of the key areas of that patient- and family-centred care to help us get exemplary standing.”

Mary Maida, who has been a Patient Partner since the program launched in 2019, has been involved in more than 30 initiatives dedicated to improving patient care and experiences. This marks the second time she was involved with accreditation at Niagara Health. Maida was part of a group that met with surveyors to highlight the work of NHEN.

“Patient Partners feel heard, we feel valued and we feel included at Niagara Health. This is not tokenism. We’re a leader in this,” Maida says. “Accreditation is an opportunity to showcase the hard work being done to create change. For Niagara Health to have exemplary status once again is outstanding. This designation allows for the highest level of accountability and that is a point of pride for the whole organization.”

Accreditation Report Overview 2024

Gail Riihimaki served as a Patient Partner member of the Accreditation Steering Committee, lending significant time and experience to supporting Niagara Health teams and leadership and ensuring the patient partner voice was heard throughout the accreditation process.

Patient Partners have been genuinely “embedded in the process of improvement” at Niagara Health, she says, and the recognition from Accreditation Canada is important to ensure continued buy-in by the organization when it comes to what Patient Partners provide.

“It’s certainly nice to know we contributed to the outstanding report Niagara Health received but it’s nice reinforcement by an external body that the whole Niagara Health Engagement Network is extremely important to Niagara Health and it’s journey toward improving quality,” Riihimaki says.

Niagara Health System