2009-07-24 / Top Stories

Local Hospitals Get Mixed Grades From Patients

By Miriam Rosenberg

This chart from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital Compare website shows how patients responded to questions about their stay in Rockaway hospitals. This chart from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital Compare website shows how patients responded to questions about their stay in Rockaway hospitals. Rockaway residents are not very happy with the service provided by their local hospitals according to the results of two recent patient surveys provided by national and statewide organizations.

The nationwide survey by Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) and statewide survey by Health Quality Coalition each examines patient experiences during a hospital stay. Included in these surveys were St. John's Episcopal Hospital and Peninsula Hospital Center in Rockaway.

On July 9, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees the HCAHPS survey, published new ratings on patient satisfaction.

Patients were asked to rate their hospital stay on 10 topics. Of the PHC patients surveyed 40 percent said they would give the hospital a rating of 9 or 10 on a scale of 0 (the lowest) to 10; 37 percent of the SJEH patients gave this rating. Forty-two percent said they would definitely recommend PHC, while 41 percent answered they would recommend SJEH. Fifty-four percent of PHC patients thought their pain was always well controlled; 55 percent of SJEH patients.

In addition patients were asked how often doctors and nurses communicated well with a patient, how often a patient's room and bathroom were kept clean, and how often staff explained medications before they were administered to the patient. SJEH had two indicators above 60 percent, two over 50 percent, four above 40 percent, and one stood at 37 percent. PHC had three at 60 percent or above, one over 50 percent and five above 40 percent. Both facilities were rated above 70 in one category - patients who said they were given information about what to do during their recovery at home.

Another patient survey by the Niagara Health Quality Coalition appears to backup the HCAHPS numbers.

According to the NHQC 2009 report, which asked patients for ratings from 0 (the lowest) to 10, SJEH receives an overall rating of 35 percent from patients who rated the facility a nine or 10, and PHC received 38 percent. The state average, according to NHQC, is 56 percent. The national average is 64 percent. When patients, who had overnight hospital stays, were asked how often their pain was well controlled, PHC patients responded with a nine or 10 rating 52 percent of the time, while SJEH patients said 50 percent of the time. The state average is 64 percent who answered with a nine or 10 and the national average is 68 percent.

In a statement to The Wave, SJEH's Director of Public Relations Penny Chin said the hospital is continually working to provide better service to its patients and ratings will show an upward swing on health websites next year.

"Just one of the programs instituted has been the hourly rounding program where nurses visit patients at their bedside every hour during the day to assist them with their basic needs," said Chin. "As a result we have seen patient satisfaction improving. Although it is not reflected in the current website postings (and will not be reflected until 2010), the Hospital's patient satisfaction rating for the month of June 2009 is significantly higher.

"It should also be pointed out that, as with all such surveys, numbers may be skewed by many factors including sample size and the number of responses."

While a PHC representative did say she would get back to us, the hospital did not respond to The Wave's request for comment citing their PR person was on vacation.

The HCAHPS, survey uses a random sample of recently discharged patients to ask about important aspects of their hospital stay. CMS uses an independent contractor to analyze the data.

My Health Finder report cards are, according to its website, "a project reporting on quality of care and providing ratings for every New York State hospital on a wide array of procedures and condition… and empowers patients with the information they need to find appropriate health care."

Data from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 20008 was used for the HCAHPS survey. Information from the 2007 calendar year represented data used for the NHQC study.

There will be more information on the medical data in the surveys in an upcoming issue of The Wave. Meanwhile, readers can log onto www.hospitalcompare. hhs.gov or www.myhealth finder.com.

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