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St. Mary’s again certified by The Joint Commission in heart failure care

ATHENS, GA – St. Mary’s Health Care System has again earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for heart failure care by demonstrating continuous compliance with Joint Commission performance standards. The gold seal is a symbol of quality that reflects a health care organization’s commitment to providing safe, high-quality patient care.

St. Mary’s Health Care System has been continuously certified in heart failure care by The Joint Commission since 2007

Certification recognizes health care organizations that provide clinical programs for heart failure across the continuum of care. St. Mary’s heart failure program includes highly accurate diagnostics; emergency care, critical care and acute care hospital services; device implantation and follow-up; home health care services with telemetric monitoring; rehabilitation services, and lifelong care by primary care physicians and cardiac specialists.

The certification process evaluates how organizations use clinical outcomes and performance measures to identify opportunities to improve care, as well as to educate and prepare patients and their caregivers for discharge. Certification is valid for two years.

“Heart failure certification recognizes health care organizations committed to fostering continuous quality improvement in patient safety and quality of care,” says Mark Pelletier, RN, MS, chief operating officer, Accreditation and Certification Operations, and chief nursing executive, The Joint Commission. “We commend St. Mary’s Health Care System for using certification to reduce variation in its clinical processes and to strengthen its program structure and management framework for heart failure patients.”

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is not able to pump blood well enough to meet the demands of the body. Caused by heart attack, high blood pressure and other conditions that weaken the heart, heart failure is progressive and can severely impact the patient’s quality and length of life. Symptoms typically include shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of feet and ankles, and coughing or wheezing. Treatment – which can include exercise, medications, device implantation and close monitoring – can help slow the progression of the condition and improve quality of life for many patients.

A rigorous process

To achieve certification, St. Mary’s underwent a rigorous onsite review earlier this year. During the visit, a team of Joint Commission reviewers evaluated compliance with related certification standards. Joint Commission standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, measurement experts and patients. The reviewers also conducted onsite observations and interviews.

“St. Mary’s is pleased to receive continuing certification from The Joint Commission, the premier accrediting body in the nation for health care quality improvement,” said Montez Carter, St. Mary’s President and CEO. “Their standards and best practices are tremendous assets to our continuing process of improving patient safety and quality of care. The trust and partnerships we have developed with our physicians have significantly contributed to our long-standing success.”

St. Mary’s was awarded its first heart failure certification in 2007 and was one of the first 25 hospitals in the U.S. to be certified. St. Mary’s maintains Joint Commission specialty certification in seven specialties: advanced primary stroke center, advanced inpatient diabetes, heart failure, COPD, total knee replacement, total hip replacement, and spine surgery.

For more information about The Joint Commission, please visit For more information about St. Mary’s, please visit

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