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MCCG Becomes First Certified Palliative Care Center in Southeast

MCCG Becomes First Certified Palliative Care Center in Southeast

The Medical Center of Central Georgia's Certified Palliative Program One of Twenty-four in U.S. 

MACON, GA (Monday, January 7, 2013) –The Medical Center of Central Georgia (MCCG) has earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval™ for its palliative care program by demonstrating compliance with The Joint Commission's national standards for health care quality and safety in palliative care. The certification award recognizes the MCCG's dedication to continuous compliance with The Joint Commission's state-of-the- art standards. MCCG is the first Certified Palliative Care Center in the Southeast, and one of 24 hospitals in the U.S. to receive Advanced Palliative Care Certification. The Children's Hospital at MCCG is one of four children's hospitals in the nation to receive certification.

"With Joint Commission advanced certification, we are making a significant investment in quality on a day-to-day basis from the top down. Joint Commission certification provides us a framework to take our organization to the next level and helps create a culture of excellence,” said Dr. Ninfa Saunders, President and CEO of MCCG.  “Achieving Joint Commission advanced certification for palliative care is a major step toward maintaining excellence and continually improving the care we provide.”

MCCG became one of 20 palliative care providers nationwide to receive a $10,000 grant from the LIVESTRONG 2012 Community Impact Project. The grant was made possible through a collaboration between Macon State College, MCCG and members of the community. This past spring, Central and South Georgia residents were encouraged to vote online for MCCG's Center for Palliative Care, which has served patients facing serious illness since 2004. Thanks to community support, MCCG received the highest number of votes in the Southeast region and received the grant, which defrayed the costs associated with applying for The Joint Commission's Advanced Certification Program for Palliative Care.

MCCG underwent a rigorous on-site review earlier this year when a team of Joint Commission expert surveyors evaluated MCCG for compliance with The Joint Commission's palliative care-specific standards, clinical practice guidelines and performance measures. The Advanced Certification for Palliative Care standards focus on patient and family-centered care in order to optimize the quality of life for patients with serious illness.

"In achieving Joint Commission advanced certification, The Medical Center of Central Georgia has demonstrated its commitment to the highest level of care for patients with serious illness,” said Michele Sacco, M.S., executive director, Advanced Certification for Palliative Care, The Joint Commission. “Certification is a voluntary process and I commend MCCG for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate its standard of care and instill confidence in the community it serves.”

Launched in 2011, The Joint Commission's palliative care certification standards are built on The National Consensus Project's Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care and the National Quality Forum's National Framework and Preferred Practices for Palliative and Hospice Quality Care. Palliative care addresses a patient's, physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs and facilitates patient autonomy, access to information and choice.

Certification is available only to Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and provides the framework for a formal, organized palliative care program led by: 

  • An interdisciplinary team whose members possess the requisite expertise in palliative care;
  • Leadership endorsement and support of the program's goals for providing care, treatment and services;
  • A special focus on patient and family engagement; and
  • Processes that support the coordination of care and communication among all care settings and providers.

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including more than 10,300 hospitals and home care organizations, and more than 6,500 other health care organizations that provide long term care, behavioral health care, laboratory and ambulatory care services. The Joint Commission currently certifies more than 2,000 disease-specific care programs, focused on the care of patients with chronic illnesses such as stroke, joint replacement, stroke rehabilitation, heart failure and many others. The Joint Commission also provides health care staffing services certification for more than 750 staffing offices. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at