The Petaluma Health Center recently received recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance for being a "Patient Centered Health Home" for the care provided to patients in Sonoma and Marin counties.

The federally qualified health center, or FQHC, was granted the "Level 3 Recognition," the Committee's highest mark, according to the California Primary Care Association. The Petaluma Health Center has been a part CPCA's patient centered health home initiative since March 2012. 

The "recognition is acknowledgement of the quality work that Petaluma Health Center staff performs every day. I am so proud of PHC achieving NCQA recognition at the highest level," said Teresa Tillman, the health center's quality director.

With health reform placing more emphasis on primary care, health centers have been encouraged to implement the patient-centered medical home model as a means of improving outcomes, and in turn lowering costs. 

The nonprofit health center, which has 170 staff members serving 19,000 patients, received the honor based on completing surveys detailing its policies and procedures, including strong partnerships between physicians and care teams to meet patient needs.

The National Committee on Quality Assurance evaluated Petaluma Health Center on the following criteria: access and continuity, identify and manage patient populations, plan and manage care, self-care, track and coordinate care, performance measurement and quality improvement.

Its survey application received a 96.25 percent score out of 100 possible points. The recognition period is from January 2013 through January 2016.***

Santa Rosa Community Health Centers was awarded The Joint Commission's "Gold Seal of Approval" for accreditation.

The Commission sets the standards that measure health care quality in America and around the world. Only 25 percent of federally qualified health centers in America have earned The Joint Commission accreditation.

The group of Santa Rosa health centers was also certified as a "Primary Care Medical Home," meaning the FQHC provides care that is well coordinated. It's the only health center in Sonoma County and the second FQHC in Northern California to earn the accreditation, officials said.

"I'm so proud of our staff for achieving the gold standard for patient safety and quality," said Naomi Fuchs, chief executive officer, in a statement. "This is evidence that we're giving people excellent care, in a top-notch facility that meets state-of-the-art standards. Patients are actively choosing SRCHC because of the wonderful care and service they get."

Accreditation means the health centers passed a comprehensive, four-day onsite survey. Doctors and nurses from The Joint Commission visited the health care centers to gauge how well they perform a number of functions, among them: provide a safe environment for care and perform quality evaluation; educate patients about the risks and options for diagnosis and treatment in a way they can understand; protect patient rights, including the right to confidentiality; evaluate medical conditions before, during and after diagnosis and treatment; protect patients and staff from infection; plan for emergency situations***

Petaluma-based WellFX announced that United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley, a federally qualified community health center serving a patient population of 50,000, will launch the startup's online social platform for its patients and employees.

In addition to the platform, United Health Centers will provide patients and employees with access to WellFX's Resolution, a video-based exercise program and innovative dietary plan.

"We see this as the next step in providing the highest level of care to our patients and employees," said Colleen Curtis, CEO of United Health Centers. "Over the past decade, research has shown that patient engagement models like WellFX's can influence patient behaviors and lead to significant improvements in their overall health and wellness."

Patients and employees enrolled in WellFX by their providers will have access to the standard features of the social platform, which offers users medically validated, educational and clinical content, as well as access to peers within their network, according to WellFX, which was luanched in mid 2012. Guerneville-based West County Health Centers signed on for the service in September 2012.

"United Health Centers consistently pioneers new approaches to comprehensive care for its growing patient community, and turns the heads of other facilities looking to adopt new programs," said Jock Putney, CEO of WellFX.

United Health Centers operates eight free-standing health facilities in the cities of Parlier, Mendota, Sanger, Orange Cove, Huron and Kerman in Fresno County, Earlimart in Tulare County and Corcoran in Kings County.***

Queen of the Valley Medical Center Foundation was awarded a $500,000 gift from The V Foundation for Cancer Research to support the Napa hospital's clinical laboratory and pathology services in the forthcoming Herman Family Pavilion, a 72,000 square-foot facility currently under construction.

The V Foundation, named for the late North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano, also gave Queen of the Valley $550,000 that enabled the hospital to launch its Caner Wellness Program.

Additionally, Queen of the Valley's CARE Network (Case Management, Advocacy, Resource/Referral, Education) is one of five programs to reduce potentially avoidable hospitalizations through better care transitions that are winners of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation contest, "Transitions to Better Care."

Patients, families, nurses, care coordinators, and other front-line health care providers from across the country were invited to submit videos telling their stories of how they help patients make successful transitions out of the hospital. More than 100 videos were submitted showcasing innovative, patient-centered approaches at transition points in care.

The contest is part of Care About Your Care, a month-long effort sponsored by RWJF to focus attention on the national problem of people returning to the hospital soon after they are discharged.***

Fairfield-based NorthBay Healthcare is seeking designation as an Emergency Department Approved for Pediatrics for its NorthBay Medical Center, considered a best practice that will enhance the nonprofit health system's trauma services.

The Fairfield hospital would be the first in Solano County to earn such a recognition, and the system's VacaValley Hospital would seek the same designation at a later date. The two emergency rooms receive more than 5,600 pediatric visits per year.

Solano County's Emergency Medical Services Agency is currently developing requirements and the application.***

A date has been set for a do-over in labor elections between the National Union of Healthcare Workers and Service Employees International Union--United Healthcare Workers West at Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California, including more than 4,700 workers in the North Bay.

The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled a re-run for roughly 45,000 employees. Ballots are scheduled to be mailed on April 5 and returned the the NLRB regional office in Oakland by April 29. A vote count will begin on May 1. Employees -- largely medical assistants, respiratory therapists, medical records clerks and others -- can also vote for no union at all.

In Santa Rosa, about 1,250 employees will be included; in San Rafael, about 800; in Napa, about 120; in Fairfield, about 113; in Vacaville, about 550; and in Vallejo about 1,900.

NUHW contested the results of a 2010 election that saw SEIU win a super-heated battle for membership, along with about $40 million in annual dues collected. But NUHW, an offshoot of the larger SEIU, alleged that its rival interfered in the election.

An administrative law judge with the NLRB agreed, recommending that the election be set aside based upon certain conduct by SEIU....

Submit items for this column to Staff Writer Dan Verel, dan.verel@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4257.