NCMS Assists Asheville Physicians Reach Highest PCMH Distinction After Fire Destroys Practice

CIMA staffOn July 28, 2011, Carolina Internal Medicine Associates (CIMA) and their staff encountered a tragic fire that severely destroyed the largest medical office building in Asheville. What they thought to be a bag of overheated popcorn, which was a common occurrence in the office, was actually a fire forming one floor above the practice. With the fire blazing, CIMA staff and patients hurried to safety, leaving everything behind to perish.

In addition to losing their practice, CIMA was significantly impacted by the death of Asheville Fire Department Captain Jeff Bowen who lost his life protecting the lives of patients and staff in the burning building. Through this event, CIMA worked tirelessly to ensure that their patients continued to receive care and that the practice, in a new location, was up and running in a timely manner. Coordinating with investigators after the fire, who were investigating the cause of the fire, impacted how efficiently the practice moved forward. If CIMA had not relocated to a new office, they may not have been able to provide care to their patients for close to a year. They also would not be able to continue their efforts of becoming a level three 2008 Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH2008).

Originally, CIMA was given a three-month extension to file their PCMH2008 documentation due to the fire, which had thwarted their ability to complete the necessary qualifying steps. With the March 30, 2012 deadline approaching, CIMA utilized services offered by the NCMS and was able to acquire the necessary reports from Allscripts Professionals, their electronic health record (EHR) vendor, to successfully attest before the deadline.

The NCMS helped CIMA become a level three PCMH2008, which was the practice’s first recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).  As a PCMH, CIMA provides cost-effective, coordinated care to their patients by using better reporting methods of quality measures while employing a more collaborative relationship between the practice and its patients.

Over the span of three weeks, Terri Gonzalez, NCMS Director of Practice Improvement, helped CIMA prepare and understand the documentation required to confirm their PCMH status. “One of the challenges that our practice experienced included understanding the measures required to meet NCQA’s PCMH standards,” said Stephanie Soderquist, practice manager for CIMA. “With Terri’s assistance, and the efforts of our staff, we were able to document properly, meet those measures, and ultimately provide more organized care to our patients.” The practice also credits JC Wright of Health Information Technology Associates (HITechA) and Tony Crew of Crew Network Solutions Inc., for making this effort a success. 

Although this was a challenging task, Terri was able to work closely with the practice to achieve PCMH2008. “Not only was this goal possible, but with the documentation created over those three weeks, the practice, which had been functioning as a PCMH, received the highest level of recognition,” said Terri.

In addition to utilizing services offered by the NCMS, CIMA’s CEO and NCMS member Kenneth Kubitschek, MD, FACP, CMD, recognized the importance of team work and physician leadership, not only in becoming a PCMH but also in rebuilding their practice. “Taking a leadership role and encouraging teamwork during this transition was essential in maintaining our workflow and continuity of care,” said Dr. Kubitschek.  The practice also rewarded their medical staff for their accomplishments, allowing the practice and its employees to grow and work more efficiently during and after the qualifying process.

In moving forward as a PCMH, CIMA offers patient resources via their website, such as appointment requests, virtual office visits, prescription renewals, access to health forms and payment options as well as availability to physicians through secure online messaging.

If CIMA had not taken the proper precautions prior to the fire, the circumstances could have been a lot worse. Everything from office desks to computers were destroyed. Yet, the practice was able to save most of their patient records by putting their server in a safe place and making copies of the records on an off-site server.

Look for upcoming publications of the Bulletin to learn more about what safety precautions should be taken to ensure a safe evacuation and successful restoration of a medical practice in the event of a fire. 

The NCMS PractEssentials program offers consulting services and technical assistance to help practices become PCMH recognized. PractEssentials services are available to NCMS members at discounted rates. Contact Terri at 800-722-1350 or [email protected] for more information regarding PCMH consultations and recognition.

Related Bulletin article:

Raleigh Practice Reaches Highest PCMH Distinction (3-16-12)


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