Good health care news locally. Bad news statewide.

Shown at a nursing station at Baptist Union County are Nurse Practitioner LaShundra Hall, Quality RN Mary Foley, Case Management RN Ellen Robbins, RN Morgan Cooper, ED Nurse Manager RN Heather Reid, RN Jason Kidd, and Chief Nursing Officer RN Randy White.
November 23rd, 2015     Health & Wellness

“The dedicated and caring staff and our strong physician partners are the keys to service excellence.”      -Walter Grace, CEO and Administrator Baptist Hospital Union County

There’s good news and bad news.

The good news: Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County did not make the “bad news” list. In fact, the New Albany facility, a part of the Baptist Memorial Health Care system based in Memphis, is among the strongest hospitals, not just in Mississippi, but in the nation.

The bad news:  A study released early this month showed that 31 hospitals elsewhere in Mississippi are in such bad shape financially that they may have to close. Nine of the most troubled facilities are designated as rural hospitals, which generally means that they are the only hospital for their community; 20 of Mississippi’s 41 rural hospitals are in financial trouble.

Baptist Union County is among nation’s strongest hospitals

Over the past few months, Baptist Union County has been the recipient of a variety of accolades. The recognition is proof of the fact that the hospital’s administration, physicians and staff have dedicated themselves to providing outstanding patient care to this community.

Joint Commission Top Performer

Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County

Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County

The Joint Commission’s fifth-annual list of “Top Performers” was announced on Tuesday, November 17, 2015. Baptist Union County is proud to be one of the year’s top performers.

The Top Performers program recognizes accredited hospitals who achieve excellence on accountability measure performance. The program is based on data for certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, children’s asthma, inpatient psychiatric services, venous thromboembolism, stroke, perinatal care, immunization, tobacco treatment and substance use. Hospitals do not have to provide services in all of the areas, and are judged on the services that they do provide. Baptist reported in the areas of heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, stroke, and perinatal care.

This recognition program is unique in that it is based on objective data, which enables each hospital to track its progress toward achieving Top Performer status. Of the more than 3200 eligible hospitals, 1,043 were named Top Performers.

There were 10 Mississippi hospitals on the list. With the exception of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle in Columbus, no other local hospitals were noted. Tennessee-based Baptist Memorial Health Care provided two of Mississippi’s top performers and three of Tennessee’s.

Quest Award for High-Value Healthcare

In September, Premier, Inc. recognized Baptist Union County as one of only three hospitals nation-wide to receive the Quest Award for High-Value Healthcare. Premier is a leading health care improvement company which leads an alliance of about 3400 hospitals and over 100,000 other providers in their quest to develop long-term innovations to improve the way healthcare is delivered to patients nationwide.

This award is granted to those who achieve top performance in all seven of the areas measured, including cost and efficiency, inpatient and outpatient evidence-based care, mortality, safety, patient experience and appropriate hospital use.

Patient Safety Awards

  • Safe Care Group “Top 100”

After the Safe Care Group analyzed hospitals on a variety of standards related to patient safety, Baptist Union County has been ranked 29th of the top 100 hospitals between 100-400 beds in areas of patient safety. Criteria involve data on 30 day mortality rates, lowest 30 day readmissions, lowest complication rates in medical and surgical care, lowest in-hospital medical and surgical infections, highest medical and surgical care measures and highest patient satisfaction scores.

Walter Grace, hospital administrator and CEO says that, “This award is another testimony to the incredibly high standard of care our staff and physician partners administer every day.”

According to the Safe Care Group, if all U.S. hospitals could attain the levels equal to the top 100 hospitals, more than 400,000 hospital deaths and over 5 million preventable complications would have been prevented.

The Safe Care Group was formed in 2010 to help hospitals excel in areas of patient safety, quality and efficiency.

  • Leapfrog Group

In November, Baptist Union County received a hospital safety score of “A” from the Leapfrog Group. The score is calculated based on several core measures, including safe practice measures, surgical care improvement measures and patient safety indicators. Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score assigns scores from “A” to “F” to more than 2,500 U.S. hospitals. Scores are assigned by top patient safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public.

According to Baptist Union County CEO and administrator, Walter Grace, the “A” score is a recent addition to the hospital’s recent roster of accolades-furthering its reputation as the area’s premier healthcare provider.

Radiologist Dr. Jeffery O'Rear MD, CT Tech Candy Hill and Tech Laura Williams demonstrate cat scan equipment with Baptist employee Chelsey Hall posed as a patient.

Radiologist Dr. Jeffery O’Rear MD, CT Tech Candy Hill and Tech Laura Williams demonstrate cat scan equipment with Baptist employee Chelsey Hall posed as a patient.

Baptist Union County offers a variety of health services, including adult and pediatric inpatient services, labor and delivery, outpatient and laser surgery and a newly renovated, 24-hour emergency room. The hospital also offers telemedicine and imaging and laboratory services, including an American College of Radiology-accredited MRI machine.

Statewide health care news is not too good

Back briefly to the bad news:  The report commissioned to Mississippi State University by the Center for Mississippi Heath Policy (CMHP) and issued by the CMHP on November 12, 2015,  said that 31 Mississippi hospitals, 20 of them in rural areas, were “at risk of closure because of either money-losing decisions made internally or unexpected external events they cannot control.”

One area hospital that did find itself on the list of  Mississippi’s nine most financially at risk hospitals is Tippah County Hospital in Ripley.

Lower reimbursement to Mississippi hospitals for services rendered is a substantial factor in the healthcare financial crisis statewide. The CMHP report states, “One major reimbursement issue is the scheduled reduction in Medicaid Disproportionate Share (DSH) payments that at least partially compensate hospitals for providing care for the uninsured. Under the Affordable Care Act, DSH payments are set to be reduced substantially as the Health Insurance Marketplace and Medicaid expansion are implemented. States like Mississippi that have not expanded Medicaid will not have that particular coverage growth to offset the DSH cuts.”

For more information about Baptist Union County visit:

For insight into the Mississippi health care financial dilemma, see our story from September, 2015: Mississippi health care: what were they thinking?

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