BENNINGTON —March 6, 2015—Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center has again achieved national recognition for providing the highest quality cancer program available in a community setting. In February, the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer formally reaccredited the cancer program, a recognition which assures that patients can trust the center to provide the gold standard for cancer care. The cancer program at SVMC has held its ACOS accreditation since 1983, a remarkable 32 years.
"Only about a quarter of cancer programs ever apply for accreditation," explained Dr. Orion Howard, medical director of the SVMC Regional Cancer Center and a Dartmouth-Hitchcock physician. "We believe that accreditation is an excellent way of ensuring that our care is top-notch and demonstrating that fact through a third-party review.”
Accredited programs must prove their compliance with 34 standards that cover every stage of the patient experience: education, prevention, diagnosis, pretreatment evaluation, treatment, research, rehabilitation and monitoring. In addition, they must provide checks for the return of disease, support services and end-of-life care.
“We are always looking for better ways to provide top quality health care. The CoC standards are a way for us to audit our program, making sure we are delivering the best patient care and experience,” explained Wendy Petitt, the manager of the Cancer Center.
Accredited programs also must demonstrate that all of the professionals involved—surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists and others—are working together to deliver the highest level of patient care and the best possible outcomes.
What’s more, the commission continues to refine and issues new guidelines and standards that challenge the center to expand or enhance programs and services.
“It is rigorous. Each year, there’s a new push,” Petitt said. “There is no better way to confirm that we are providing the best cancer treatment available.”
This accreditation is a powerful decision-making tool for cancer patients. Seventy percent of cancer patients seek care at accredited centers.
As valuable as the accreditation is, it cannot measure the impact of the personalized relationships a smaller hospital offers. “Being recognized as an individual may still be the best advantage of receiving treatment here,” added Petitt.
Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center is a department of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC). It is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and provides full-service cancer care in a community setting. Its physicians are members of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians. SVMC is part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC), an integrated health system serving Bennington and Windham Counties in Vermont and nearby communities in New York and Massachusetts. In addition to the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, SVHC consists of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, the VNA & Hospice of SVHC, the SVHC Foundation, and the SVMC Northshire and Deerfield Valley campuses. It also includes Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians, a multispecialty medical group operated in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock.