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Mease Countryside Hospital wins national honors
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Mease Countryside Hospital holds the 100 Top U.S. Hospital Award as well as an Everest Award.
SAFETY HARBOR – Mease Countryside Hospital has a lot to be proud of. It has won two of the top national awards, being named a 100 Top U.S. Hospital and winning an Everest Award, both from the Truven Health Analytics study.

“What it means is that the community should be very proud,” said Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president of the 100 Top Hospital Program at the main headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich. “They have a hospital that is highly reliable, that has excellent culture, performance improvement, and they improve on an ongoing basis. And that’s improvement as a whole organization. A 100 Top Hospital has balanced excellence across clinical quality, efficiency, financial performance, patient safety and also patient perception of care.”

This is the ninth time that Mease Countryside has been selected as a 100 Top Hospital in the 20 years the study has existed and is only one of 17 hospitals in the nation to receive a 2013 Everest Award. To earn this honor, one has to be a 100 Top Hospital and also achieve the highest current performance and fastest long-term improvement over five years.

“It’s an incredibly proud moment for me to see the teams recognized for their hard work throughout the course of the year and ongoing, and meeting the health needs of the community,” said Lou Galdieri about winning both awards. Galdieri is chief operating officer for Mease Countryside and Mease Dunedin Hospitals. “It’s always great to be able to celebrate our success with them.”

Truven Health Analytics evaluates the performance of every hospital in the country that accepts Medicare, so hospitals cannot pay to participate or ask to participate. They all are automatically in the study, and the information is from publically reported data. This year, 2,922 hospitals were included in the study. Truven analyzes the hospitals based on 10 areas: mortality, medical complications, patient safety, average patient stay, expenses, profitability, patient satisfaction, adherence to clinical standards of care, and post-discharge mortality and readmission rates for heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia.

Chenoweth said the fact Mease Countryside has won the top hospital distinction numerous times is impressive.

“What that means is that that organization has really incorporated that culture of performance improvement throughout the organization,” Chenoweth said. “You can’t win nine times without having that built into the culture. And when you think about winning the Top 100 Hospital Award, that’s sort of like setting a world record because you’re in the top 3 percent of the country, and it’s really difficult to win nine times because sometimes it’s a thousandth of a point that separates a winner and a nonwinner.”

No hospital has won this distinction every year, Chenoweth said, which is a given with the data. In 20 years, the highest number of wins is 17, she said, so since Countryside started winning in 1997, it has established a strong record, she said.

Truven began the study, Chenoweth said, because most hospitals around the country were comparing to averages.

“And we felt that meant that mediocrity would reign,” Chenoweth said. “So we learned that by having benchmarks, performance improvement happens more quickly because there’s a better comparison.”

The organization purposely does not rank the hospitals 1 to 100, and it divides them into different categories: major teaching hospital, teaching, large community, medium community and small community hospital. Mease Countryside fell into the large community hospital category.

“What we wanted was in each of our categories was enough winners that we could show these benchmarks are achievable,” Chenoweth said. “So we have found that not only are they achievable, but over the years the benchmarks have risen and that the hospital industry has radically improved its performance. Particularly in the clinical measure and length of stay.”

To win a 100 Top Hospital award is big, but to be one of 17 hospitals to win an Everest Award is huge.

“The Everest Award is really the best of the best recognition in that you have to be a Top 100 Hospital to be eligible for the Everest Award, and not only do you have to do that, the Everest Award specifically recognizes the highest current performance and the long-term improvement over five years,” Galdieri said.

To get this award, hospitals can’t zigzag with their improvement, Chenoweth said. They can’t just have a particularly excellent year or two but then fall back. They have to continue to get better at a fast pace. This year, Chenoweth said, the group of winners was particularly unique.

“We found that the whole group set national benchmark rates of improvement for numerous categories,” Chenoweth said. “We looked across all the metrics and these hospitals had their metrics all clustered with an enormously fast rate of improvement as well as high performance. But what was stunning about these Everest Award winners was that it wasn’t just in one metric. It was in actually about six of them. They were in mortality, lengths of stay, patient perception of care, profit from operations, complications, and core measures, which is the process of care. And these Everest Award winners exceeded performance across all of those areas. And they did well in the other measures, it’s just that in these six areas they were extraordinary.”

Galdieri said Countryside Hospital works hard to provide the best care possible. There are several teams focused on various clinical outcomes throughout the whole Baycare Health Systems, he said. This includes clinical quality improvement, patient satisfaction metrics, including the discharge process. Leadership at all of their hospitals also take an active role, he said.

“All our leaders throughout the organization are involved in leadership rounds, where they visit patients in every unit to make sure our patients have the ability to speak to someone in leadership and management and the quality of care and all the efforts and measures we have in place are indeed being delivered at the bedside,” Galdieri said. “We also implemented follow-up phone calls for post-discharge patients who we feel may be at high risk for readmission.”

Chenoweth said having such a good hospital benefits the entire community.

“I congratulate the whole community because really it is the patients that are the winners when you have a hospital that performs as well as yours does,” Chenoweth said. “And that’s a great thing.”

There are a few things that Galdieri feels are special about Countryside Hospital. It fluctuates between the second- and third-busiest emergency room in the county, and it also has an exceptional emergency cardiac center, he said. Additionally, in recent years, it now has the ability to treat emergency and nonemergency patients with an angioplasty procedure, said Beth Hardy, public relations manager for the Morton Plant hospitals. This is where doctors open up clogged arteries, especially when someone is experiencing a heart attack, she said..

Countryside Hospital is also the only hospital in north Pinellas and near Pasco County that has a level 2 and level 3 neonatal intensive care unit, Galdieri said, so doctors there are able to treat more premature babies without having to transfer them to another hospital.

“We also have an affiliation with St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, so all of our physicians and nursing team are St. Joseph’s Children’s specialty trained, so it provides even a higher level of training and clinical expertise to our in-patient pediatric unit as well as our neonatal intensive care unit,” Galdieri said.

More exciting things are happening at Countryside Hospital in addition to winning the awards.

“We’re very excited,” Galdieri said. “Right now, construction is under way for a $40 million central utility plant. This utility plant elevates our facility infrastructure and adds additional capacity with our facility functions such as plant operations, plant maintenance and it really is the first phase of a site plan that we will be embarking on and beginning planning for in the next year or so.”

The last addition to the hospital was in 2005, Hardy said, when the Jacobson Emergency Room and new tower were added. The new plan hopefully will add an additional tower, Galdieri said, which would increase private rooms, expand some clinical programs and add more beds.
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