East Alabama Health Celebrates Recent Recognition





East Alabama Health (EAH) is getting recognized in more ways than one. The hospital’s care and awareness efforts have recently earned various distinctions and certifications that are helping to advance its services to the community.


Last month, Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of Alabama announced that the East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) had earned designation as a Blue Distinction Center+ for cardiac care.

“Our cardiac program at East Alabama Medical Center is as strong in 2023 as it has ever been,” said Laura Grill, president and CEO of EAH, in a news release. “To be designated by Blue Cross as one of only eight Blue Distinction Center+ hospitals in Alabama is a true credit to our physicians and staff who strive hard every day to provide high-quality, compassionate health care to our patients. They definitely deserve the recognition.”  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone dies every 34 seconds from a cardiovascular disease. Blue Distinction Centers+ like EAMC aim to provide patients with the information they need to access the best care possible. They also provide more cost-effective care — determined using BCBS medical claims — and are about 21% more cost-efficient than non-designated centers.

The designation comes as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. Being a nationally designated Blue Distinction Centers+ means EAMC and the seven other designated hospitals across the state have demonstrated quality care and safe practices, leading to better outcomes for patients overall. 

To become a designated Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care, hospitals must demonstrate expertise in percutaneous coronary interventions, coronary artery bypass graft (open heart surgery), aortic valve replacement and mitral valve replacement and repair. They are also assessed “using quality information supplied by facilities and third-party data registries, which were developed with input from the medical community and leading accreditation and quality organizations,” according to the news release. They must also meet national criteria.

Find more information and a list of the designated providers at www.bcbs.com.


Recently, EAMC also received special certification for advanced inpatient diabetes disease-specific care.

The certification comes in the form of a Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission, a U.S.-based nonprofit that accredits thousands of health care facilities and programs across the country. This recent distinction means EAMC has demonstrated quality care and compliance with performance standards.

“Advanced Inpatient Diabetes Disease-Specific Care Certification recognizes health care organizations committed to fostering continuous improvement in patient safety and quality of care,” said Deborah Ryan, with Accreditation and Certification Operations of The Joint Commission, in a news release. “We commend East Alabama Medical Center for using certification to reduce variation in its clinical processes and to strengthen its program structure and management framework for patients with diabetes.”

Amie Hardin, who oversees EAMC’s inpatient and outpatient diabetes programs, spoke highly of the diabetes teams.

“We have a great collaborative multidisciplinary team, including diabetes educators, dietitians, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, social workers, educators and lab professionals who continually provide expertise with such compassion to our patients with diabetes,” she said. “This cohesive team assists in successful diabetes management, which helps lead to better outcomes in all disease processes.”

According to the news release, EAMC first became certified in 2010 and is one of only 60 hospitals in the U.S. with the certification — and remains the only one in Alabama.

Hardin said EAMC sees about 4,000 diabetes patients each year, accounting for nearly one-third of its inpatients.

“With diabetes being so prevalent in our state, we feel strongly that we need to put forth this extra effort so that team members across the organization have extensive knowledge when it comes to treating patients with diabetes,” she added.

A Joint Commission reviewer visited EAMC Feb. 10 to conduct an onsite review. The reviewer checked to see how EAMC was meeting the commission’s certification criteria, which also reflect the American Diabetes Association’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes for 2022.

“Our employees have such a commitment to excellence in diabetes care, said Nicki Ware, vice president of quality and chief nursing officer for EAMC. “It was so nice to hear an outsider come in and speak so genuinely about how she saw us carrying out our mission, and doing it, as she said, with such ‘passion, collaboration, and teamwork.’”

Visit www.jointcommission.org for more information.


The efforts of staff at EAMC campuses in both Opelika and Valley have also earned them Platinum Recognition for raising awareness of organ donation.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced the honors at last year’s Stars of Hope Gala in Montgomery. The hospitals are two of 34 in Alabama to earn the distinction.

“This Platinum Recognition award exemplifies the passion for organ donation within our organization,” said Megan Harper, organ donation committee chair, in a news release. “The hard work and dedication from our employees in educating and promoting organ donation to our patients and their families is very meaningful, and I appreciate the efforts of everyone involved.”

Hospitals with the distinction are active in their education and promotion of organ donation in their respective communities. Participation earns the hospital points toward Platinum Recognition.

According to the news release, the two EAMC hospitals hosted and participated in several activities that earned them points. These include, but are not limited to:

• a flag-raising ceremony during National Donate Life Month (and the raising of the same flag whenever organs are procured from a patient who agreed to be an organ donor upon their death),

• displaying campaign posters in the hospital lobby to promote organ donation during National Donate Life Month,

• staff participation in National Blue/Green Day,

• creating social media posts that provided links to register to be an organ donor,

• and holding a competition between units to see how each unit or department could represent, educate, promote and champion the Donate Life Campaign using the “Bee a Donor” theme.

These distinctions are not the first for EAH, which has demonstrated success in several other areas over the course of its history. To learn more about EAH, visit www.eastalabamahealth.org.

Opelika’s EAMC campus is located at 2000 Pepperell Parkway.


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