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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Hospitals in region given star ratings

Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

Lutheran Hospital, one of the region’s largest health care providers, received one of the lowest quality ratings in the state Wednesday in the first federal hospital quality report.

But the rating doesn’t include recently adopted improvements, a Lutheran spokeswoman said.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rated 3,617 hospitals nationwide, based on up to 64 quality measures that included timeliness and effectiveness of care, safety, readmissions and patients’ experiences.

The hospital industry fought the initiative, arguing that hospitals that treat the sickest patients would be punished with lower scores. But federal officials insisted the information needed to be shared.

"The Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating is designed to help individuals, their family members and caregivers compare hospitals in an easily understandable way," they said.

Overall, northeast Indiana hospitals performed well in the ratings, posting mostly 3s and 4s on the 5-star scale, including snagging two of the state’s eight perfect scores. The national average was 3.

Lutheran Hospital, however, received 2 of 5 possible stars. Five other health care providers in the state received 2s. Only one, Kentuckiana Medical Center in the southeast corner of the state, received 1 star for quality.

Of Indiana’s 122 hospitals, 103 rated higher than Lutheran; 12 weren’t rated because officials lacked sufficient information.

Parkview Regional Medical Center, Lutheran Hospital’s local rival, received 4 of 5 stars. Fort Wayne-based Parkview Health is a nonprofit organization that owns and operates eight hospitals in northeast Indiana.

Parkview Regional Medical Center and Parkview Hospital Randallia share one license, so when the hospitals are rated, they are evaluated as one entity, spokeswoman Jessica Miller said in an email. Together, they are licensed for almost 600 beds.

Lutheran Health Network, which is also based in Fort Wayne, operates eight hospitals, including Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, which wasn’t included in the quality ratings.

Although the organization’s website includes no reference to it, Lutheran’s network is owned by Community Health Systems, a for-profit company based in Franklin, Tennessee.

At www.medicare.gov, users can compare specific hospitals’ data in numerous categories to each other and to state and national averages.

"A hospital’s overall rating is calculated using only those measures for which data are available. This may include as few as none or as many as 64 measures. The average is about 40 measures," the website states.

Despite the differences in star ratings for Parkview Regional Medical Center and Lutheran Hospital, the detailed information doesn’t seem to reflect a vast difference in performance.

The hospitals’ results are tied on numerous metrics, with Lutheran’s scores beating Parkview’s in some areas.

Lutheran Hospital, which is licensed for almost 400 beds, lags behind its local competitor most consistently in patients’ experiences.

In all 11 categories, Lutheran’s numbers were lower, including patients who reported their nurses always communicated well (78 percent vs. 81 percent); patients who reported they always received help as soon as they wanted (64 percent vs. 67 percent); patients who reported their pain was always well controlled (71 percent vs. 73 percent); and patients who reported the area around their rooms was always quiet at night (58 percent vs. 69 percent).

Lizette Downey, a Lutheran spokeswoman, said that all of the network’s facilities "are committed to providing safe, quality care for every patient.

"Our physicians, nurses and other clinicians work to continually improve care," she said in a statement. "It is important to remember the data used to calculate this report is dated and does not reflect all of the quality initiatives we have in place. As we remain focused on quality and service, we expect to see improvement in future reports."

"This year, Lutheran has significantly improved the patient experience and its population health management," Downey said. "We’ve also seen a sizable reduction in hospital-acquired conditions. We value transparency and consumer knowledge about the quality of care and experience provided by our hospitals."

Hospital-acquired conditions include post-surgery infections and bed sores.

Both Lutheran and Parkview have something to celebrate. Their orthopedic specialty hospitals received 5 of 5 possible stars. Only eight hospitals in the state received that top rating. Nationally, only 102 received 5 stars.

Many of the country’s best-known hospitals performed below expectations, the Associated Press reported. But Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Memorial Hermann Hospital System in Houston were among those who received top marks.

Federal officials designed the evaluation to include as many hospitals and measures as possible, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website. They made an effort not to skew the criteria in favor of certain types or sizes of hospitals.

Eric Clabaugh, Parkview’s spokesman, said transparency is important so that patients can make informed choices. The feedback will also help Parkview officials, he said.

"We will use this new source of information – as well as many others that are available to healthcare providers and consumers – to learn from what CMS says we are doing well but also best understand what areas show an opportunity for improvement," Clabaugh said in a statement.

"This report provided by the CMS is one snapshot or measure of care," he said. "We must all keep in mind that each individual patient’s clinical diagnosis and circumstances are different, and our recommendation is that patients talk with a trusted clinician about what the data and ratings mean, for them and their care."

sslater@jg.net