Sparks Health System CEO Ted Woodrell said Friday (Sept. 18) that the “unbelievable increase in services” at the hospital is just the first of more “dramatic” improvements to come.
Woodrell and Dr. Margaret Tremwell, the chief quality officer at Sparks, spoke to a lunch gathering of area business representatives to talk about recent facility and quality improvements at the hospital.
Financial improvements at the hospital are directly related to the increase in quality and new services, Woodrell explained. Specifically, he noted that the hospital performed 253 open heart procedures in fiscal year 2009, up over the 93 procedures in fiscal year 2008. Woodrell said the increase is not only good for the hospital, but for the community because people were previously leaving the city for those procedures.
Other changes possibly resulting in an improved financial picture are a 9.7% increase in surgeries (14,383 in FY 2009), a 12.8% increase in daily census (202 average daily census in FY 2009) and a reduction in the number of paid employees per patient load. Woodrell noted that the number of paid employees per patients (adjusted for the level of illness among patients) was 3.3 in FY 2009, down from 3.7 in FY 2008. Woodrell said the reduction reflects the “increase in our efficiency.”
The accomplishments of fiscal year 2009 Woodrell cited include a new 40-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit with a daily census that hovers in the high 20s and low 30s, “dramatic” increases in core quality measures, a new sleep lab center and an improved stroke telemedicine program.
Woodrell announced that the hospital was just awarded a $735,000 grant to expand the telemedicine service that allows health care providers in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas save critical time in diagnosing and treating strokes.
To handle the increase in services, Woodrell said the hospital added about 20 new doctors in the most recent fiscal year, and will likely be able to “absorb” between 5 and 10 doctors into the hospital system during the current fiscal year.
Despite the improvements, Woodrell noted that the Sparks board of directors did decide to sell the hospital to Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates. That announcement was made Aug. 14. HMA, a publicly held company with total revenue of $2.34 billion for the first six months of 2009, operates Summit Medical Center in Van Buren and two Van Buren clinics — Cornerstone Family Clinic and Internal Medicine & Associates.
Tremwel then explained the quality process that has resulted in improved patient care results in all key metrics. She said the care-quality data is verified by measurements monitored and evaluated by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Tremwel’s report showed improvements in the following areas.
• Core measures for pneumonia care increased from an average of 79.3% in the third quarter of 2007 to a 99.4% average for the second quarter of 2009.
• Core measures for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) care increased from an average of 90% in the third quarter of 2007 to a 98.7% average for the second quarter of 2009.
• Core measures for heart failure care increased from an average of 83.5% in the third quarter of 2007 to a 96% average for the second quarter of 2009.
• Core measures for surgical care increased from an average of 82.2% in the third quarter of 2007 to a 98.6% average for the second quarter of 2009.
• The rate of patient infection while in the intensive care unit has fallen from an average of 8.1 in January 2008 to no infections in May, June and July.
Also, of the 45 Arkansas hospitals reviewed during the fourth quarter of 2008 by the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, Sparks ranked 8th in appropriate care measures.
“Our goal is not to be mediocre. We want to be the best in the country,” Tremwel said in explaining that the care improvements are not yet to her satisfaction. However, Tremwel said the recent measurements now mean that Sparks can “compare head-to-head with any hospital in the country.”
A recent study by Data Advantage examined quality, affordability and efficiency, and patient satisfaction at 4,500 hospitals. St. Edward Mercy Medical Center (67% overall care index) and Sparks Health System (59%) were above the national average for the overall index, and both hospitals were at or above the national average for core measures. Summit Medical Center (47%) in Van Buren was below the national average for the overall index and core measures.
Tremwel credited the improvements on a hospital staff from admissions to nurses to doctors to discharge who are focused on improving care “one patient at a time.”