Mrs. Salma Jaouni

CEO of HCAC in Jordan

Mrs. Salma Jaouni

“Accredited Healthcare Institutions have better Readiness to Deal with COVID-19”

Since the emergence of the COVID-19 breakout, Health Care Accreditation Council (HCAC) has taken strong measures, and pledged to be a voice of reference for patients, healthcare providers, and healthcare institutions.  ‘Hospitals’ magazine met HCAC CEO, Mrs. Salma Jaouni to talk about Accreditation and the Pandemic. 

What is the role and impact of accreditation on the preparedness of healthcare organizations to face the current pandemic?

Now more than ever, healthcare institutions need to be equipped with the proper quality and patient safety tools to navigate the unprecedented and stormy health environment we face. Accreditation and external evaluation programs have helped ensure that this extraordinary need, to prioritize quality systems, to ensure resilient, adaptable, well-prepared healthcare institutions that can face the emerging turbulence in healthcare environment, is properly and systematically addressed.

For the past thirteen years, the Health Care Accreditation Council (HCAC) has been working closely with an array of healthcare institutions in Jordan and beyond, on addressing identified gaps and promoting improvements in relation to quality and patient safety. 

This ranges from emergency preparedness infection control, medication management, patient care and flow, to environmental safety among other critical areas in the provision of safe and comprehensive care.  

Based on research done during Jordan’s national lockdown (mid-March to mid-June 2020), the HCAC team found that accredited healthcare institutions have better capabilities and readiness to respond to and deal with the COVID-19 new norm; specifically in areas of:

1. Emergency preparedness;

2. Infection control; 

3. Capacity building; 

4. Case management;

5. communication;

6. Laboratory services. 

The accreditation journey has had an outstanding impact and supported those enrolled in it in many ways– the pillars to good response were in place or were readily activated – such as:

  • A well-structured Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Program, 
  • A stronger ability and skills to design and upgrade disaster management plans to manage COVID-19 cases.
  • Availability and activation of responsive committees, 
  • Complete policies and procedures that reference HCAC standards and support accurate and timely communication and decision-making, 
  • Trained staff, and an inherent culture and internal systems for quality monitoring, including data collection, performance indicators, proper documentation of patient records and clinical data.

Accredited hospitals reported that they were sought after for guidance and advice on how to jumpstart systems and plans; a testament that accreditation standards served as a catalyst and roadmap during the management of COVID-19.

How did HCAC situate itself during the pandemic, and what was your role in promoting health and safety?

Since the emergence of the COVID-19 breakout, HCAC has taken strong measures, and pledged to be a voice of reference for patients, healthcare providers, and healthcare institutions.

HCAC Laboratory Readiness Checklist

Communication is key

HCAC took immediate steps towards spreading awareness, by launching a social media and digital campaign “Be Ready Be Safe” aimed at ensuring healthcare organizations, service providers and the public have continuous access to information and guidance pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, to promote adherence to quality services and safe practices in emergency situations.

“Be Ready, Be Safe” Awareness Campaign

A user-friendly Resource Hub

HCAC’s internal multi-disciplinary team of experts, designed, developed and published a repository of reliable scientific resources and a readiness toolkit in both English and Arabic, comprising practical and scientifically proven guidance and tools to ensure provider readiness in emergency situations. The resources were then later culminated into two main valuable products:  A Manual for COVID-19 Readiness, and an associated Quality Improvement Toolkit- all of which were made available free-of-charge to Jordan and the world. 

Guidance not only for healthcare Institutions

In order to enable healthcare facilities to navigate their way through the crisis, HCAC also developed Readiness Programs and Checklists for both healthcare and non-healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, healthcare centers, labs, schools, nurseries, restaurants, food outlets, etc. to strengthen infection prevention and control procedures, design and implement their risk plans, abide by government and international guidance for COVID-19 safety and have well-learned staff on safety requirements and expected behaviour.

Capacity Building and Knowledge Sharing at the Core

HCAC also designed and hosted workshops for delivering updated information, and knowledge on how to manage and co-exist with the COVID-19. Seven online sessions were organized and delivered through Ejawda, HCAC’s online training platform. The sessions included many topics such as: infection control, case management for COVID-19, critical care management for COVID-19, neonatal care for infected or suspected mothers, emergency preparedness, dental care during the pandemic, breastfeeding during the pandemic. These workshops were delivered free-of-charge and attended by more than 850 participants.

 Additionally, and with the aim to maintain engagement with the public community, key stakeholders, healthcare institutions, and frontline healthcare providers, HCAC launched 2 series of webinars and participated in international webinars that tackled a variety of topics related to COVID-19 readiness and response.

The first series consisted of 4 policy webinars presented in the form of Q&As and interviews with the CEO on areas such as family medicine, private sector role, the quality and safety in the pandemic,  and mental health all in the realm of COVID19. The second series was dedicated to online discussions with accredited healthcare institutions highlighting their practices and reflected on their experience with COVID-19. 

What is your take on Telehealth, is it going to be the new normal in our health systems?

Infection Prevention & Control Workshop

COVID-19 outbreak has propelled the world into new and alternative forms of making business, delivering education as well as promoting and providing healthcare services. Virtual practices in healthcare, including telemedicine and telehealth has been around for years, and has rapidly transitioned in the last 6 months from being desirable, to a key requisite in healthcare future planning. 

We have seen many barriers to access to healthcare broken down by the use of technology. Though it will never replace the face-to-face health promotion and healthcare delivery, it should and will continue to evolve as a key component in driving healthcare and better health. In Jordan, great initiatives that are functional and effective emerged and were fast tracked because of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. I am sure however that they will keep developing. Such an example would be the electronic platform “e-Med Hakeem” that was set up to address the healthcare needs of patients with chronic diseases and meet the prescription refill needs. 

However, adopting telemedicine requires evolving patient care workflows and potentially redefining the patient encounter. They will require proper guidelines and standards as well which HCAC will be ready to put forth… 

HCAC webinars

What is HCAC’s roadmap to navigate through the pandemic and move forward beyond COVID-19?

Moving forward, HCAC will continue with its mission to ensure that healthcare institutions are in continuous readiness and emergency preparedness for pandemic-like situations and post COVID-19 timely delivery of healthcare services. The continuity of care is at the core of what we are now advocating for.

Additionally, HCAC is working on reinforcing and expanding the requirements of emergency preparedness in its accreditation standards while ensuring the latest guidelines on infection prevention and control, case management, and emergency management are updated throughout all of its standards revision cycles. HCAC has also adapted to the current restrictions by designing and undertaking a virtual survey model to ensure that accreditation services are continued and that the cycle of improvement and quality evaluation is uninterrupted. This will continue to evolve into our methodologies of work and services offered.

Amidst the uncertainty, we have a long way to go. However, HCAC is equipped with an unwavering drive, technical competence, and situational awareness that allows us to tackle challenges in health systems in different sectors and countries. We are here and will always be, to serve patient safety and uphold quality at all times.

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