Exemplary Standing: First air ambulance service achieves accreditation with AC in Ontario

February 14, 2019

“The accreditation process helped to bring the entire organization together,” says Jo-Anne Oake-Vecchiato, Accreditation Lead at Ornge.

Ornge was Accredited with Exemplary Standing in December, and is the first dedicated air ambulance service to be accredited by Accreditation Canada (AC) in Ontario.

Ornge aircraft

Photo credit: Ornge

Ornge provides the province of Ontario with air ambulance services with both fixed wing and rotor wing assets, and critical care land transport services.

Ornge is responsible for more than 20,000 patient-related transports each year. In addition to its head office in Mississauga, Ont., Ornge operates 12 bases across Ontario.

Oake-Vecchiato notes that Ornge staff found the Accreditation process to be intensive, but “very satisfying and very rewarding.”

“One thing the accreditation process accomplished was that it brought the entire organization together in a constructive way,” Oake-Vecchiato says. “We’re ecstatic about achieving Exemplary Standing.”

She acknowledges that the accreditation process focuses on the development of organizational practices that promote quality health care delivery and patient safety, and promote Patient- and Family-Centred-Care.

“Ornge is a better and stronger organization for the accreditation process,” she said.

Oake-Vecchiato notes that a key change Ornge implemented as a result of the accreditation process is the development of a Patient and Family Council.

She notes that in the past, Ornge has found it challenging to find representatives who could speak to the needs of the diverse population of patients transported by Ornge across the province.

Oake-Vecchiato says that as part of the accreditation process however, Ornge reached out to other organizations to understand their best practices, and how they select and incorporate patient and family representatives into their processes.

“So that has actually been realized at Ornge now and it’s a big step for us,” she said. “This is something that Accreditation Canada brought to the floor for us.”

Oake-Vecchiato notes that Ornge considered different accrediting bodies for its recent accreditation.

“As Ornge’s health delivery practices have been heavily influenced by its aviation culture, Ornge identified with the organizational approach to quality and patient safety that is the hallmark of Accreditation Canada,” she says.

As this was Ornge’s first time undergoing AC’s accreditation process, Oake-Vecchiato said that it was a significant learning experience for the organization.

To prepare for Accreditation, Oake-Vecchiato explained that an Accreditation Team was formed with representatives from each of Ornge’s service divisions. A ‘Countdown to Accreditation’ clock and a blog explaining key elements of the accreditation process were also created, among other activities.

“Managers also spent a lot of time with staff. As we approached our fall survey, we tried to do a lot of work to engage staff and support their learning,” she said.

With Exemplary Standing achieved – AC’s highest award – Oake-Vecchiato says Ornge is now looking ahead and working on a sustainability plan to maintain that standing.

Ornge helicopter

Photo credit: Ornge

“We want to make sure that for the next four years, all of the wonderful work that we’ve done to prepare for the accreditation process will be maintained,” she said. “The focus going forward is to continue embedding and integrating quality as part of everyday life at Ornge.”

For patients, Oake-Vecchiato says accreditation allows them to be comfortable as they know they are being treated by a quality organization.

“Accreditation gave us confirmation that we were on the right track,” she said. “It gives you confidence that you are meeting standards that go beyond what you think is best.”

During Ornge’s Accreditation Survey this fall, AC surveyors visited Ornge’s head office, the Operations Control Centre (OCC) and its bases in Thunder Bay, London, Toronto, and Ottawa, which has a land base and an air base. This covered the full range of services Ornge offers.

During the next Accreditation Survey, different Ornge locations will be visited.

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