augusta free press news

Augusta Health earns top grades

Story by Chris Graham

Call Augusta Health the “little hospital that could.” Call it that because it’s one of 74 hospitals nationwide to win top awards for patient safety and clinical excellence from HealthGrades from among the more than 5,000 hospitals in the United States reviewed by the Golden, Colo.,-based organization.

Augusta Health is one of 15 hospitals with fewer than 200 acute-care beds to win HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award and Distinguished Hospital Award for 2010.

“This comes from the employees and staff of this organization. They’re extraordinarily committed, patient-centered and focused on excellence and teamwork. That’s a critical success factor. It’s built into the culture here,” said Mary Mannix, the president and CEO of Augusta Health.

What this means to you: Medicare patients at hospitals receiving the Patient Safety Excellence Award were on average 43 percent less likely to experience a patient-safety event, according to HealthGrades. Patients admitted to Distinguished Hospital Award honorees had risk-adjusted mortality rates that were on average 29 percent lower than all other hospitals.

The grades are based on a review of 40 million hospitalization records from the 5,000 hospitals in the U.S. that participate in the Medicare program. Participation in the HealthGrades studies is mandatory.

“To be the best of the best means you have to stay ahead of the curve,” said Dr. Joseph Ranzini, the chairman of Augusta Health’s Quality and Patient Safety Committee and a member of the Augusta Health Board of Directors.

“The bar is constantly moving. If we get better, somebody is trying to leapfrog us to get better. It’s an ongoing, moving target. And we’re perfectly happy to engage in that kind of results-oriented test. We’re not aiming for awards. We’re interested in having good outcomes. That’s really what it is for us,” Ranzini said.