Rankings show quality health care is available in Haywood County

By David Rice • Guest Columnist

The results of a survey of nearly 5,000 hospitals nationwide indicate Haywood Regional Medical Center provides better care in several procedures than most hospitals. The hospital received 25 five-star ratings in addition to being ranked best in North Carolina for overall critical care and best in the state for gastrointestinal services.

The hospital ranks in the top 5 percent of hospitals in the nation for overall gastrointestinal services, the top 5 percent in the nation for gastrointestinal surgery, and in the top 5 percent in the nation for gastrointestinal medical treatment. HRMC ranks among the top 10 percent of hospitals in the nation and among the top 10 hospitals in the state for overall pulmonary services, and in the top 10 percent of hospitals in the state for general surgery.

The survey was conducted by HealthGradesTM, a healthcare ratings company. Hospitals do not pay for this study.

The rankings were based on predicted and actual outcomes of 28 clinical services over three time periods — during a hospital stay, recovery one month after the hospitalization, and recovery six months after the hospitalization. Researchers analyzed Medicare discharges from every U.S. hospital between 2004 and 2006. The study examined patient outcomes, mortality and major in-hospital complication rates. Hospitals were assigned a one-star (poor), three-star (as expected) or five-star (best) quality.

These ratings compared HRMC with larger hospitals like Mission and Duke and provide us with important third party validation of our high level of care at Haywood Regional Medical Center, in addition to routine reviews by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Facility Services.

The HealthGrades report also helps identify areas where improvements are needed. The hospital’s quality oversight committee meets on an ongoing basis to study and formulate improvement plans to address those areas.

Managing the quality of health care is a complex endeavor. A common framework is that quality consists of structures, processes and outcomes. The structural component involves physical objects, such as buildings, staff and equipment. Processes involve how the various structural components interact with each other. Outcomes are the measurable results of providing health care, infections and mortality rates.

High quality health care consists of high levels of quality in all three components. The 2008 HealthGrades report is an example of Haywood Regional Medical Center’s commitment to providing quality health care.

Haywood Regional Medical Center is the recipient of the HealthGrades Pulmonary Care Excellence AwardTM, HealthGrades Gastrointestinal Care Excellence AwardTM, and HealthGrades Gastrointestinal Surgery Excellence Award.TM The five-star ratings were for: treatment of heart attack, treatment of heart failure and treatment of atrial fibrillation; treatment of sepsis and treatment of respiratory failure; overall gastrointestinal services, gastrointestinal medical treatment, treatment of bowel obstructions, treatment of gastrointestinal bleed, and gastrointestinal surgeries and procedures; general surgery for treatment of bowel obstruction; overall pulmonary services, treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and treatment of community acquired pneumonia.

We knew for years that we were reaching this point. As we have recruited more physicians, department directors and clinical staff, the potential to achieve this was there. Our continued goal is to have a five-star rating in everything we do. Our planned surgery and hospice centers will allow HRMC to provide even better care.

The impact for such a glowing report can be far-reaching economically. People and businesses considering relocating to Haywood County can be assured of quality health care, and recruitment of top-notch physicians and support staff.

Haywood Regional is the third largest employer in Haywood County, providing 14 to 15 percent of the jobs. A total of 137 physicians and 39 allied health professionals are on HRMC’s medical staff, representing 28 specialties.

This study confirms that Haywood Regional Medical Center is a hospital people can use with trust and confidence. With a report like this, there is no reason to go anywhere else.

(David Rice is the president and CEO of Haywood Regional Medical Center)

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