Leader Blues

Sunday, December 31, 2006

TOP STORY >>Hospital gets good marks in U.S. study

IN SHORT: Results of survey show Rebsamen is competitive with other area facilities.

By GARRICK AND EILEEN FELDMAN
Leader editors

Rebsamen Medical Center in Jacksonville has struggled for years with the perception that it’s not a first-rate hospital, but a recent survey gives the facility high marks for patient care in many categories.

In a hospital-comparison tool Web site comprised of quality-measure tables developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rebsamen Medical Center compared favorably in many areas with other institutions in the area.

Heart attack care quality measures, which quantify recommended care given to patients when appropriate, compared hospitals in the area, although some numbers for some hospitals such as Rebsamen were too small to reliably predict the hospital’s performance, according to the site.

Kurt Meyer, Rebsamen’s administrator, said Friday that new data will show the hospital in an even better light. “Updated data will show even better results” for the hospital, he said.

“We’re comparable with other hospitals in the area,” Meyer said. “We have competitive prices.”

To access the government Web site for further information on hospital quality data, go to www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.
For example, the percentage of heart attack patients given aspirin on arrival at the hospital was 96 percent at Rebsamen compared with 97 percent at Baptist Health Medical Center, North Little Rock; 89 percent for Southwest Regional Medical Center; 92 percent at White County Medical Center, and 96 percent at St. Vincent Medical Center North.

(Higher percentages of treatment are better indicators of quality care. Percentages include only patients whose condition indicated such treatment was appropriate.)

Heart attack patients given an ACE inhibitor if appropriate, which allows affected blood vessels to relax, making the work of the stressed heart easier, were 50 percent at Rebsamen compared with 88 percent at Baptist, North Little Rock; 67 percent for Southwest Regional Medical Center; 50 percent at White County Medical Center and 50 percent at St. Vincent Medical Center North.

Heart attack patients who received beta blockers on arrival were at 88 percent at Rebsamen compared with 91 percent at Baptist Health Medical Center, North Little Rock; 80 percentfor Southwest Regional Medi-cal Center; 62 percent at White County Medical Center, and 96 percent at St. Vincent Medical Center North. Beta blockers help control heart arrythmias (irregular beating).

Patients with pneumonia placed on antibiotics within four hours of arrival at the hospital were 85 percent at Rebsamen compared with 77 percent at Baptist Health Medical Center, North Little Rock; 73 percent for Southwest Regional Medical Center; 82 percent at White County Medical Center, and 62 percent at St. Vincent Medical Center North.

Patients diagnosed with pneumonia and assessed for adequate oxygenation was 98 percent at Rebsamen compared with 100 percent at Baptist Health Medical Center, North Little Rock; 99 percent for Southwest Regional Medical Center; 100 percent at White County Medical Center, and 100 percent at St. Vincent Medical Center North.

Heart attack patients discharged on aspirin were 88 percent at Rebsamen compared with 97 percent at Baptist Health Medical Center, North Little Rock; 100 percent for Southwest Regional Medical Center; 100 percent at White County Medical Center, and 70 percent at St. Vincent Medical Center North.

In several categories, Reb-samen’s data was not available including the percent of surgery patients who received preventative antibiotics one hour before incision; the percentage of heart attack patients given smoking cessation advice; and the percent of pneumonia patients given influenza vaccination.

Rebsamen is redefining its role in the community and seeking comments from local leaders how best to serve the area.
Plans for the city-owned hospital include a possible overhaul of its 45-year-old building and even perhaps building a new facility toward the end of the county to attract patients from the Cabot area. No firm announcement is expected until next March, Meyer said.

Rebsamen finds itself in the middle of several larger hospitals in the area that offer thousands of beds and a myriad of services, but Rebsamen is determined to see its way through a competitive environment where costs rise and income is down.

The hospital lost $803,000 this year and has had to dip into its reserves. Rebsamen billed patients and health-care providers $88,622,000 for services in 2006, but collected just $46 million because the government and insurers do not pay what they’re charged.

Quorum Health Resources, the private company of Plano, Texas, which manages the city-owned hospital, charges Jacksonville $259,073 a year to run Rebsamen. Kurt Meyer, who works for QHR and administers the hospital, says his company saves the city $726,725 a year in lower supply and equipment costs.

In addition, QHR provides consulting services from its headquarters valued at $195,000 a year, Meyer said.
Rebsamen is the smallest hospital in the area with 90 beds, of which 60 are occupied on average. By comparison, White County Medical Center in Searcy has 438 beds, Baptist Medical Center in North Little Rock has 175 beds, and St. Vincent’s in Sherwood has 140 beds.

Next: Cost of a new hospital.