After an extensive review of its policies and practices, the Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) has extended its accreditation of Cougar Health Services (CHS) at Washington State University for the next three years.

As part of the Division of Student Affairs, Cougar Health Services provides student-centered, integrated health services through its medical clinic, counseling and psychological services, a pharmacy, vision clinic and health promotion.

It serves about 20,000 students on the WSU Pullman campus.

For senior premed student, Katie McLeod, having quality healthcare conveniently located on campus means the difference between seeking help when she is sick, or staying home and toughing it out.

“For me and my family, being able to go to Cougar Health Services, and receive great care, gives us peace of mind,” McLeod said. “If Cougar Health Services didn’t exist, I know I wouldn’t seek out healthcare elsewhere.”

The AAAHC team examined a wide range of topics and services including patients’ rights and responsibilities, quality of care, risk management, and governance, to name a few. Two surveyors from AAAHC spent a day-and-a-half on campus reviewing supporting materials and interviewing staff from each CHS department.

Ellen Taylor, senior associate vice present for student engagement in the Division of Student Affairs, said the renewal of AAAHC accreditation is validation of the hard work and commitment to excellence that is evident throughout Cougar Health Services.

“Most importantly, it means students can confidently seek health services right here on campus, knowing that the staff is student-centered and current in best practices,” Taylor said.

CHS Nursing Manager Jenni Dalton served as the accreditation lead and commends the entire CHS team for their commitment to gathering the needed documentation amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Since our accreditation process took place during the pandemic, one of the top things AAAHC focused on was how Cougar Health Services has responded to it,” Dalton said. “While it added another layer to our review, they were impressed with the strategies we’ve implemented to keep students safe and socially-distanced when seeking care.”

Other strengths AAAHC included in its final report are CHS staff’s familiarity with the specific needs of students. It also compliments the staff for helping students understand how to access health care facilities and educate them about their conditions.

The AAHC is a private, non-profit organization which accredits more than 5,000 organizations nationwide.

Students come first

According to The Princeton Review’s book “The Best 386 Colleges,” published in August, WSU students think very highly of CHS. Among the questions asked of the 143,000 students surveyed was “How do you rate your school’s campus health services?” WSU ranks 10th on the list. Data collected from another question, “How do you rate your school’s student support and counseling services?” places WSU fifth in the rankings.

McLeod, who serves as chair of the Student Health Advisory Committee, said some people might be surprised that such quality healthcare can be found in a small community like Pullman, but believes the Princeton Review rankings are well-deserved.

“Having used a lot of the services at Cougar Health Services, it is evident that students come first in the minds of the staff,” she said.