Phil Castle, The Business Times
Of all the factors Dr. Brian Davidson considers in evaluating the operation of St. Mary’s Medical Center, patient safety ranks among the most critical.
“It’s the most important thing,” Davidson said. “Taking care of people and doing it well is the most important.”
That’s why the president of the Grand Junction hospital took time to celebrate with staff the latest twice-a-year ratings for patient safety from a health care industry watchdog group.
St. Mary’s received a hospital safety grade of A from the Leapfrog Group. St. Mary’s also received a Top Hospital designation in the category for teaching hospitals.
To mark the occasion, Davidson completed rounds of a different sort, pushing a cart decorated for the occasion and passing out packages of M&Ms — blue and green ones matching the colors of the St. Mary’s logo and imprinted with an A on one side.
The hospital safety grade program has assigned A, B, C, D and F letter grades to general acute-care hospitals in the United States since 2012. The program take into account measures of publicly available hospital safety data in producing a single grade that reflects the capacity of hospitals to keep patients safe from errors, infections and injuries. An independent and nonprofit organization, Leapfrog Group, rates hospitals on quality and promotes change in health care.
Leah Binder, president and chief executive officer of Leapfrog, said transparency promotes safety. “Errors and infections in hospitals are the third leading cause of death in America, and people deserve to know which of their hospitals are best at preventing them,” she said.
Of the 2,632 hospitals graded in the latest assessment, 832 earned an A, 662 a B, 964 a C, 159 a D and 15 an F.
The five states with the highest proportion of A hospitals this fall were Rhode Island, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho and Virginia The five states with the lowest proportion of A hospitals were North Dakota, Washington D.C., Delaware, Maryland and New York
“By making the hospital safety grades public, we’ve galvanized major changes in these states and many communities,” Binder said. “Not only does it require dedication from national organizations, such as Leapfrog, to make this information public, but also from local coalitions, regional leaders, employers, business leaders and other community organizations to work with these hospitals and their communities to improve the quality and safety of health care.”
St. Mary’s was one of 18 hospitals in Colorado to receive an A and the only hospital in Mesa County to do so.
Delta County Memorial Hospital in Delta also received an A, as did the Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs.
Over the past four years, St. Mary’s has received three As and five Bs. Earning the top grade in the latest assessment was a priority, Davidson said. “We very much pushed our way over the top.”
St. Mary’s was among five Colorado hospitals that received the Top Hospital designation for teaching hospitals. The selection criteria includes adherence to Leapfrog standards for computerized physician orders for medications, intensive care unit physician staffing, policies for handling serious events and reporting on and meeting performance standards.
Davidson said the A grade and designation reflect the focus at St. Mary’s on patient care. “It’s the reason why we exist — taking care of people.”
For additional information about the Leapfrog Group hospital safety grade program and grades for area hospitals, visit the website located at www.hospitalsafetygrade.org.