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Employees and Experts React to GoLocal’s First-ever Hospital Rankings

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Taking a step back from GoLocal’s first-ever hospital rankings, various trends concerning patient care, administrative strategy, and hospital size begin to emerge. A closer look at the results reveals not only which hospitals in Central Massachusetts patients say provide the best care, but what common characteristics make some hospitals more appealing than others.

No Surprise At The Top

Administrators at Clinton Hospital, a 41-bed community hospital in Clinton, weren’t surprised the facility’s impressive ratings among patients. Their top ranking in New England does, however, reassure staff members that their work is highly appreciated.

“Clinton Hospital routinely earns high scores in patient satisfaction because a positive patient experience is something we work very hard to achieve,” said Karen Plainte, Vice President and Quality and Resource Management at Clinton Hospital. “Learning that we earned the number one ranking in New England validates that our commitment to patient-centered care is paying off and tells us that our patients are reaping the rewards.”

Despite the excellent patient feedback, hospital administrators insist they will continue to strive for improvement.

“We are always trying to improve in all areas of the hospital,” said Plainte. “We pay close attention to the best practices and standards of care both within our hospital and those used in other facilities, and do our best to model our service after these proven methods.”

Another Strong Finisher

The second place finisher in the region, and 27th in New England, was Ware’s Baystate Mary Lane Hospital (BMLH). Hospital employees believe they separate themselves from other hospitals in New England, in part, because of their ability to treat patients quickly and efficiently. BMLH’s 30-minute pledge is designed to have all patients seen by a provider within 30 minutes of their arrival.

“Emergency medicine is all about providing highly skilled, essential care without undue delays,” said Michelle Holmgren, the hospital’s Public Affairs & Community Relations Specialist. “This pledge requires teamwork across all hospital departments- resulting in faster turn-around times for lab work and diagnostic testing, and more efficient movement of patients through the various phases of their hospital care.”

But BMLH’s recipe for success is simple. The hospital is a pillar in the community and embraces its role as such on a daily basis.

“We take our commitment to continuous quality improvement personally,” said Holmgren. “BMLH is our community hospital. We bring our families here when a loved one is sick. We care for our neighbors as though they were family and we take personal pride in our hospital’s standing. It’s this personal touch that characterizes the care we provide and the satisfaction we take in a job well done.”

What About UMass Memorial?

Worcester’s UMass Memorial Medical Center had the lowest rating among hospitals in Central Massachusetts, and ultimately finished at 167th in New England. The hospital has experienced some turmoil as of late, due to staffing cuts and controversial policy implementations, including requiring all nurses who have not received flu vaccinations to wear masks on hospital grounds at all times.

“This (ranking) is not surprising, given that UMass has some of the worst Resident Nurse staffing levels in the region,” said David Schildmeier, Director of Public Communications at the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “There can be no patient-centered care without appropriate RN staffing in a hospital. It’s that simple. When there are too few nurses and support staff for nurses, when nurses have too many patients care for at one point, patients suffer delays in care, patients are neglected, and worse still, mistakes and errors are more likely. UMass is failing its patients and its community every day by not providing safe RN staffing levels.”

Schildmeier says the Massachusetts Nurses Association is seeking to pass legislation to require hospitals to provide what increased Resident Nurse staffing levels. Take precautions like these, he argues, will lead to higher scores in future years.

“UMass Memorial Medical Center is seeking contract language to require safer staffing levels,” said Schildmeier. “This is the only way to guarantee that all patients and hospitals receive a safe standard of quality care.”

Small Hospitals Rule

When glancing over GoLocal’s rankings, it’s clear that smaller hospitals out-perform the larger ones when it comes to the patient’s perspective. The higher volume of patients that come in and out of the larger hospitals may make their interactions with staff members more detached and generally less favorable.

“It is interesting to note that it is very small hospitals that score among the highest, as these facilities don’t have the high number of turnover of patients, and the acuity level (which is level of illness for patients) is not as high as it is in the higher volume hospitals,” said Schildmeier.


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