Penrose revels in cardio accolade

RTA-PenroseLike many other comparable, ambitious hospitals, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services earns its fair share of national and state-level recognition.

But some of those honors mean more, and that’s the case now as Penrose-St. Francis has been named one of the top 50 cardiovascular hospitals in the nation by Truven Health Analytics.

“It’s a difficult award to obtain,” said Margaret Sabin, president and CEO of the local hospital system.

The Colorado Springs system was the only Colorado hospital to make the cardiovascular hospital list.

Other hospitals reaching the top 50 include the Mayo Clinics in Rochester, Minn., and Phoenix, Ariz., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and others.

“These are great organizations,” Sabin said.

According to the Truven report, $1 of every $6 spent on health care in America is attributed to heart disease, and heart disease is the top reason Americans are admitted to hospitals.

The Truven Health 50 is an annual study of more than 1,000 U.S. hospitals. Hospitals do not apply, and winners do not pay to market the award.

The study evaluates the hospital performance in the areas of complications, core measures, mortality rates, readmission rates, average length of stay, average cost, average wages and more. This year’s study was the 15th annual. It’s the third time Penrose-St. Francis has won the award.

Tools such as the Truven report “allow consumers to research and choose a heart-care provider based on the quality of care a hospital provides, and we’re finding that they’re willing to travel to get quality care,” Sabin said.

“Already, 34 percent of our cardiac patients come from outside Colorado Springs. We’re a destination hospital for cardiac care.

“People are shopping these days for elective surgery,” she said.

Those patients’ families may stay at the hospital’s John Zay Guest House or at hotels in the community, making medicine “good for the economy,” she added.

The study measured the number of days the patient stays in the hospital after surgery.

“If we can discharge patients early, we can get more people in” and better help people, Sabin said. “We now have 14 families on a wait list.

“Our cardiac program has grown to be probably the largest in the state at this point. That helps our bottom line. We take seriously, seriously sick patients and treat them well.

“That is critical to the survival of the hospital and secures our future as a world-class tertiary hospital in a non-capital city.”

Of the percentage of people in the community who choose Penrose-St. Francis, the hospital’s market share has gone from 38 percent five years ago to 44 percent now, Sabin added.

The hospital’s growth in income has seen five years of improvement. Between 2008 and now, “we’ve had double-digit increases in our bottom line each year,” Sabin said.

Survival rates are better at the winning hospitals, particularly patients receiving bypass surgeries and angioplasties, the report said. Also, the winners had a “substantially lower complications index than their peers.”

Longer-term outcomes were better at winning hospitals, the report said. The winning hospitals’ 30-day heart failure and heart attack mortality rates were lower than their peers, meaning a smaller percentage of patients died, of any cause, 30 days after admission.

Winning hospitals also had lower readmission rates and released their patients sooner than their peers.

“The typical winning hospital released their bypass patients nearly a full day sooner, and their heart failure and angioplasty patients were released about a half day sooner than their peers,” the report said.

The top 50 hospitals’ costs were also on average almost $2,200 less than their peers on a typical bypass surgery patient and $1,200 less per admitted heart attack patient.

Truven also named the top 100 hospitals and the top 15 health systems in the nation.

In the top 15 health systems, Poudre Valley Health System in Fort Collins and Exempla Healthcare in Denver were named.

Colorado hospitals tagged in the top 100 include the McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Rose Medical Center in Denver and North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley.