ACA auditor shares insight.

Author:Robbins, Pamela
Position:Correctional Health Perspectives - American Correctional Association - Essay

Starting nursing school, I had no idea that my education and subsequent license would lead me to the challenging world of correctional health care and the American Correctional Association's accreditation process. As a health services administrator preparing for accreditation audits with the Ohio Department of Youth Services and eventually as an ACA health care auditor, I have experienced both sides of this essential and valuable process. It continues to be an adventure, a learning experience, and a test of my knowledge with each audit.

Being audited and auditing share similarities, including preparation, planning, teamwork and evaluation. The facility wants to show through an objective, independent assessment that it provides a consistently healthy, safe and secure environment for offenders, staff, and volunteers; the audit teams' goal is to provide a comprehensive assessment of facility operations and practices compliant with professional standards. Anticipation and apprehension are also part of the audit process. Everyone has worked very hard and is ready to showcase their facility, department and programs. ACA auditors want to provide a fair assessment of compliance by visiting all areas and learning as much as possible about the facility through observation, staff and offender interviews, and a painstaking review of the documentation supporting consistent achievement of standard compliance. You don't want to miss anything, making sure the facility and staff receive a thorough audit without intruding or disrupting their daily operations. Professional growth is facilitated by the opportunity to meet and network with peers from other regions, exchanging ideas and sharing both successes and failures. Each audit I have participated in has added new ideas or an improved way of doing things to my "solution bank."

Auditors are teamed with respected, experienced, knowledgeable corrections professionals from around the country. Auditors are selected based on their field of expertise (for example, juvenile or adult corrections; jails, prisons, probation or community residential facilities). Each audit creates the opportunity to learn not only from the other members of the audit team but also from facility staff, agency procedures and programs. The accreditation process provides an excellent environment in which to share information, ideas and practices while ensuring that an appropriate level of services are being provided in a safe and secure...

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