2012-07-13 / Front Page

Mag Rates PHC High, SJEH Lower

Consumer Reports Lauds Closed Hospital
By Howard Schwach

SJEH, Rockaway’s only hospital, was rated relatively low in the study. SJEH, Rockaway’s only hospital, was rated relatively low in the study. Consumer Reports, the highly-regarded magazine that is known for its fairness and credibility, has rated many of the hospitals in the United States on safety issues, using a 0 to 100 scale to denote the most dangerous to the safest facilities.

Among New York City hospitals, the shuttered Peninsula Hospital Center rated a 52, the second-highest in the city, behind only NYU Langone Hospital in Manhattan and in the top 5 in the state.

St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, the only hospital facility left in Rockaway, rated a 35, sixteenth in the city and far down the state list.

The Consumer Reports story says, “Hospitals used to be places to get better, but too often, the opposite happens.”

For the article, the magazine compiled records from a myriad of sources, including the hospitals themselves, government and state sources.

PHC is rated third in New York City despite the fact that it was closed by the state DOH in April. PHC is rated third in New York City despite the fact that it was closed by the state DOH in April. In addition, the magazine spoke to patients, physicians, hospital administrators and safety experts.

The safety score combines four categories: infections; readmissions; communication and scanning. Each of those categories counted for 20 points in the rating.

Two other factors play a lesser part in the rating: complications and mortality. Those two factors were rated at 10 points each.

The top hospital in the nation was Billings Clinic in Montana, with 72 points. The lowest, Hanford Community Medical Center in Hanford, California, with 25 points.

Peninsula Hospital Center, which was closed by the state in April because of problems with its clinical laboratory, got perfect scores in both infections and scanning and slightly lower scores in readmissions. Only in communication did the hospital show a lower rating.

St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, on the other hand, got the lowest rating in readmissions and scanning, with a slightly higher rating in infections and a better rating in scanning.

Scanning reflects the percentage of chest and/or abdominal CT scans that are ordered twice for the same patient, once with contrast and the other without.

Rockaway resident Bob Grabowski was angered by the article.

“One hundred and eighteen hospitals in New York State were rated. Peninsula, which is sadly now only a memory, ranked number 12, placing it in the top 10 percent of the hospitals in the state in terms of safety. That’s not New York City, but New York State,” he wrote. “In contrast, St. John’s is number 94, placing it in the bottom 20 percent of the hospitals in New York State for safety. Need I say another word?”

Peninsula Hospital Center is no longer available for comment, and state officials declined our offer to comment on the story.

Penny Chin, a spokesperson for St. Johns Episcopal Hospital, issued the following statement:

“Providing high-quality, safe patient care is the mission of St. John’s Episcopal Hospital and its staff. Consumer Reports is one of many organizations evaluating hospital safety. While the goal is to provide a simple and understandable resource for consumers, Consumer Reports itself admits the data has “a limitation” because of lack of full and consistent reporting nationwide.

“St. John’s readmission rating does not accurately take into account that, compared to some other hospitals, it serves a very high proportion of nursing home and Medicare patients, who are sicker and older with multiple conditions. While every readmission at St. John’s is carefully evaluated for quality of care, the Hospital has not identified any trends or concerns.

“Like all consumer report cards, Consumer Reports’ hospital safety rankings provide a snapshot of the organization at one point in time. By the time the report is ready for publication, as many as nine to 12 months may have lapsed since the data were collected. Since that time, St. John’s has improved its readmission rates and cut in half the Hospital’s standardized infection ratio from its previous posting.

“St. John’s is working hard to increase patient quality and safety. It is a member of a nationwide initiative of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services called the Partnership for Patients. The initiative’s goal is to advance better health, better care, and lower costs. Through Partnership for Patients, St. John’s is building on its successes in patient safety, including infection control, readmissions, and hand-washing education among staff and visitors, to continue to provide high quality care to patients.

“At St. John’s, improving patient safety is everyone’s concern. Patients are encouraged to talk with their physicians and Hospital staff if they have questions about patient safety ratings and quality improvement initiatives.”

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