Virginia gets ‘A’ grade on National Palliative Care report card


Photo Credit: Peshkova

Virginia has earned an “A” grade in the recently released 2019 “State-byState Report Card on Access to Palliative Care in our Nation’s Hospitals” from the Center to Advance Palliative Care and the National Palliative Care Research Center.

Palliative care is specialized treatment for patients living with a serious illness such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, dementia, or Parkinson’s disease. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for patients and their families by providing relief from the often painful symptoms associated with serious illness. Members of Virginia’s hospital community have invested resources in providing palliative care to patients of all ages in hospital-based, office, nursing facility, and home health settings. The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) has supported this work through a Palliative Care Forum that focused on promoting awareness and improvement in palliative, and hospice or end-of-life care by focusing on hospital and health system education in inpatient and outpatient settings.

In all, 20 states and Washington, D.C. received “A” grades on the report card. Among states earning “A” grades, Virginia’s overall score surpassed seven states and Washington, D.C. Nearly one-fourth of states received “C” and “D” grades. The report card assigns grades based on an analysis of data used to determine whether patients with serious illnesses receive equitable access to hospital-based palliative care services.

“Fighting illness and treating injury among the patients our members serve, so people and families can move on with their lives, is an essential part of the valuable work performed by hospitals and health systems across the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, some patients have serious or terminal conditions,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “In those cases, hospital staff members work to deliver compassionate treatment that provides relief to patients and their families as they deal with the physical and emotional ravages of disease and serious illness. Palliative care can be a lifeline for patients in that situation, and as these new national rankings affirm, Virginia hospitals are prepared to provide comfort and treatment to patients at all stages of their medical journey.”

“One of the hallmarks of providing high-quality health care is doing so in a way that honors patient dignity. For many people confronting a serious diagnosis, access to palliative care in their home community is a true asset that provides real relief to patients through treatment,” added Abraham Segres, Executive Director of the VHHA Center for Healthcare Excellence, which has focused on palliative care work as part of its broader mission. “The fact that Virginia earned an ‘A’ grade on the 2019 national palliative care report card is a testament to the work being done in hospitals and health systems throughout the Commonwealth to meet patient needs with respect and empathy.”

Virginia earning an “A” grade in the national palliative care report card is the latest example of the ways in which hospitals and health systems in the Commonwealth continue to distinguish themselves on national measures of health care service, quality, and patient safety performance. Earlier this year, the Spring 2019 Hospital Safety Grade scores from the Leapfrog Group showed that Virginia ranked second in the nation on its patient safety survey. That represents an improvement from the Fall 2018 scores when Virginia was third overall. The state rankings reflect the number of “A” graded hospitals in a given state. In all, 35 Virginia hospitals received “A” grades from Leapfrog, a national health care patient safety ranking organization. Virginia has shown steady improvement in the Leapfrog rankings, moving up from fifth overall among states in the Spring 2018 grading period. Now, Virginia is one of the two best states in the nation.

In addition to the latest Leapfrog scores, more than a dozen Virginia hospitals earned places on the “America’s Best Hospitals for 2019” annual list compiled by Healthgrades, including two hospitals each that made the “America’s 50 Best Hospitals” (top 1 percent of hospitals) and “America’s 100 Best Hospitals” (top 2 percent of hospitals) lists, respectively. The annual “Best Hospitals” list includes 250 hospitals representing the top 5 percent of hospitals in the nation for overall clinical excellence that year, according to Healthgrades. This year’s list was released in February. Also this year, three Virginia hospitals were named to the “100 Great Hospitals in America” list compiled by Becker’s Hospital Review.

These acknowledgements are in addition to individual service line designations of excellence and certifications achieved on a regular basis by hospitals throughout Virginia. Last year, Virginia earned the 2018 HRET HIIN Quality Award presented by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Health Research & Education Trust (HRET). The award recognizes exemplary dedication and leadership in advancing the quality and safety of health care for patients. And in 2017, Virginia was ranked among the top 10 states in an assessment of health care quality as
measured by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).


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