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Hospital fares well in recent report

January 5, 2011

File photo by Amy Cherry

Elk Regional Health Center remains on target in regard to mortality and re-admission rates, according to a recently released report issued by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). The report examines hospital outcomes for the previous calendar year.
PHC4's 2009 Hospital Performance Report, which is released annually and encompasses 34 separate categories, reviews 158 hospitals across Pennsylvania and compares the length of stay, re-admissions rate and average cost to patients who are admitted for a variety of conditions. PHC4 was formed by the state to collect, analyze and report information for use in improving the quality of health care in Pennsylvania while helping to restrain rising health-care costs. The Council collects millions of inpatient hospital discharge and ambulatory/outpatient procedure records annually from hospitals and freestanding ambulatory surgery centers across the state on a quarterly basis. After the data is verified by Council staff, it is released to the public in the form of free reports.
The report for Elk Regional, released on Dec. 23, was a winter update to the 2009 Hospital Performance report released earlier in the year. It stated that neither re-admission nor mortality rates rose for all discharged patients at ERHC between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2009. Additionally, an average of 93.2 percent of Elk Regional's patients in the 34 categories of care stayed at the hospital for an "expected" length of time.
"We're proud of our results," said Gregory Bauer, Elk Regional Health System president and CEO. "Those results show that our treatment of patients is effective and that their length of stay with us is appropriate.
"The results also show that our clinical staff is making the right decisions when it comes to patient care, and our patients are reaping the benefits of their knowledge and expertise."
According to a PHC4 county report, there were a total of 6,133 cases at Elk Regional from 2009 to 2010. Patients ranging from 75 to 84 years of age were among the most seen at the hospital. Of the 1,276 patients age 75-84, 724 were female and 552 were male. The second most treated age group were those age 65-74 years old, totaling 936 patients, 502 of whom were male and 434 were female. Patients age 85 and over accounted for 760 cases, including 501 females and 259 males. Approximately 774 cases involved those age 55-64 years old, with 426 males and 348 females. Those in the 45-54 age range accounted for 596 cases, with 306 females and 290 males.
Additionally, 455 cases accounted for those in the 25-34 age range, with 315 females being treated and 140 males. Those five years of age and younger accounted for 442 cases. with 224 females and 218 males. Patients aged 35-44 accounted for 438 cases, with 275 females and 163 males.
Those between the ages of 15-24 accounted for 347 cases with 224 female and 123 males. The least-treated age group were those between 5-14 years of age, totaling 109 cases with 56 males and 53 females.
The top insurer utilized for over 52 percent of patients was Medicare, with 3,239 cases. Other insurers included Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans, used by 22 percent of patients with 1,360 cases and Medicaid was used by nearly 14 percent of patients for 847 cases. Commercial insurance accounted for 539 cases, self pay for 112 cases, other government issued insurance for 31 cases.
In response to the 6,133 cases treated from 2009 to 2010, total charges for those visits were $152,427,335.
Ailments effecting the circulatory system were among the most treated with 1,056 cases, with the average charge of $34,293. Approximately 764 cases were treatment for respiratory system issues, 692 cases for musculoskeletal system and connective tissue, 499 cases for the digestive system, 424 for mental diseases and disorders, 373 cases for the nervous system, 372 cases for obstetrics, 349 cases for newborns, 230 cases for kidney and urinary system, 221 for infectious and parasitic diseases, 174 for other health factors, 142 for the female reproductive system, 133 for hepatobilliary (liver/gallbladder) system and pancreas, 118 for skin, tissue and breast issues, 88 for alcohol/drug use and mental disorders, 72 for poisonings, and 70 for ear, nose, mouth and throat 63 for blood disorders, 40 for bone marrow related issues, 16 for the male reproductive system, and 6 cases each for burns and eyes.
The report also indicated that Elk Regional patients typically had a length of stay that was neither too long nor too short, according to Matthew Romania, Elk Regional's Director of Quality.
"In some cases, however, patients at Elk Regional stayed longer or left sooner than was 'expected,' based on the needs of the patient," Romania said.
He noted that over 93 percent of patients being treated for congestive heart failure at Elk Regional experienced a hospital stay which was of the "expected length."
"We're pleased with that," Romania said. "Even though 0.6 percent of our congestive heart failure patients experiences a hospital stay that was longer than 'expected,' we met expected re-admission rates for that particular condition. That means that our patients received appropriate care while they were here and did not suffer post-discharge complications that would require re-admission with the same diagnosis."
More than 95 percent of ERHC patients treated for septicemia, otherwise known as sepsis or blood poisoning, had an average length of stay.
"That's just another affirmation that the care we're providing is appropriate," Romania said.
In addition, 18.8 percent of patients treated for chest pain at ERHC experienced a "shorter-than-expected" stay.
"That shows that our clinical staff is able to diagnosis a patient quickly and, if it's needed, transfer them to a facility where they can receive the appropriate level of care," Romania said. "In those cases, patients are transferred because Elk Regional does not provide the procedures they need. We're able to get patients where they need to go quickly - and that's important for successful treatment.
Romania also pointed out that Elk Regional met the expected re-admission rates for patients suffering from chest pain.
ERHC's Chief Nursing Officer and Vice-President of Patient Care Services, Deborah Garrett, said the hospital's clinical staff is constantly searching for ways to improve.
"Our patient safety team gathers data on an ongoing basis, beginning with daily meetings, and is constantly reviewing and auditing the results," Garrett said. "We believe that self-improvement is a journey that will never end. Excellence is something we pursue relentlessly. These are the foundations of our corporate culture, Giving Everyone Magnificent Service (GEMS), and they're ideals we strive to attain every day."
For more information on this story, see the Jan. 6th edition of The Daily Press.

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