“It takes everyone’

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hospital honored with national ranking


LaGRANGE – Officials at WellStar West Georgia Medical Center say their ranking last week as a top 100 hospital by Truven Health Analytics means a lot to the staff – and should mean a lot to the patients and families who use the hospital facilities.

“This one means so much,” said Charis Acree, vice president and chief operating officer at the facility. “It’s an independent assessment of our data that is provided to the public and it names us as one of the top performers in the country.”

It’s the second year WellStar West Georgia Medical Center has achieved the ranking, and it’s something officials say they work on every day.

“It takes everyone,” Acree said.

Town hall meetings are routinely held not just with the upper hospital management but even kitchen and janitorial staff to make sure the smallest details are met. The data analyzed includes everything from the larger factors such as patient mortality to cost of services, length of stay, the time it takes to be admitted and inpatient and outpatient surveys taken after a hospital visit is over.

The hospital took home the ranking in the large community category because beds at its skilled care facilities were included.

“I think that makes it more impressive because we’re on a larger platform,” said Acree.

The hospital has been working to improve patient experience for the last 10 years and addressing issues like making sure patients get their questions answered and that everyone at the hospital introduces themselves to patients when entering a room or interacting.

“It’s about transparency,” said Kathy McWhorter, director of performance improvement and medical staff services. “Jerry Fulks (CEO) has a saying, ‘Every patient, every measure, every time.’”

The standards even look at how the hospital educates the community through programs like the annual Heart Truth Luncheon and other efforts.

“I think (what the ranking means) is you can get quality care right here and you don’t have to drive an hour anywhere else,” said Jan Nichols, hospital spokeswoman.

It is a point of pride that WellStar West Georgia Medical is now a benchmark for other hospitals to follow.

“Other hospitals are looking at our data now,” McWhorter said.

The Truven Health 100 Top Hospitals is the most comprehensive, academically driven study of its kind, hospital officials said. It evaluates clinical and operational performance in 11 areas, addressing: inpatient mortality, 30-day mortality rate, complications, core measures, 30-day risk-adjusted readmission rate, severity-adjusted average length of stay, mean emergency room throughput, inpatient expense per discharge, Medicare spend per beneficiary, adjusted operating profit margin and Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) score (patient rating of overall hospital performance). The study has been conducted annually since 1993.