St. Mary’s gets A for patient safety effort

Bryan Johnson

Phil Castle, The Business Times

St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction has once again received an A for its efforts to ensure patient safety.

The medical center operated by SCL Health received an A rating from the Leapfrog Group in its spring 2020 hospital grades report. St. Mary’s has received an A in each of the last six twice-yearly assessments from the health care industry watchdog group.

Bryan Johnson, president of St. Mary’s, said the rating validates ongoing efforts to provide safe and high-quality care while in turn driving down health care costs. “I couldn’t be more proud. It really is a fantastic thing to have happen.”

Dr. Andrew Jones,
chief medical officer at St. Mary’s Medical Center agreed. “We are constantly monitoring and improving our quality, safety and value. Utilizing rating services like Leapfrog gives us valuable, third-party evaluations of how we’re meeting our goals. A Leapfrog A rating is a hard mark to hit. We are happy to have met that mark again.”

Leapfrog Group has assigned A, B, C, D and F letter grades to general acute-care hospitals in the United States since 2012. While the process is voluntary, more than 2,600 hospitals submit information for evaluations.

The rating takes into account 28 measures of publicly available information to produce a single grade. Letter grades are based on how patients fare statistically, resources used in caring for patients and leadership and structures that promote patient safety.

According to the Leapfrog Group, tens of thousand of lives have been saved because of progress in promoting patient safety and reducing avoidable medical errors.

St. Mary’s Medical Center was among 16 Colorado hospitals receiving A grades in the latest report. Nine hospitals received B grades, 13 hospitals C grades and two hospitals D grades

Johnson said the grades offer a measure patients can take into consideration in deciding where to go for health care services.

But the grades also promote accountability for the health care industry overall. The goal of health care providers, Johnson said, should be to provide safe and quality care at a lower cost.

At St. Mary’s, a string of six A grades affirms what Johnson said have become “hard-wired” procedures and processes to provide safe and quality care.

Procedures and processes change over time, though, in response to information about outcomes, he said. “It’s a constant and evolving process. You can’t just be stagnant.”

Improving safety and quality also drives down cost, Johnson said.

Limiting infections following knee replacement surgeries, for example, reduces the frequency of subsequent surgeries and complications and shortens hospital stays, he said.

Implementing nurse-driven protocols to remove catheters reduces urinary tract infections and speeds recovery, he added.

It takes time, Johnson said, as well as the participation and commitment of health care providers. “We’re just really proud of our staff.”