Pen Bay Healthcare touts national recognition

Posted Dec. 20, 2012, at 3:25 p.m.

ROCKPORT, Maine — The president of Pen Bay Healthcare said it is a “really big deal” being named a top hospital by one of the leading national reviewers of medical facilities.

Pen Bay Medical Center was one of 67 hospitals, from nearly 1,200 across the United States analyzed by the Leapfrog Group, to receive a top hospital honor. Pen Bay Healthcare President and Chief Executive Officer Wade Johnson said while the recognition is a great honor he was already aware of the high quality of care provided at the Rockport hospital.

Johnson pointed out he has a letter from a resident of Albany, N.Y. who had been sailing off the Midcoast of Maine a few years ago and suffered an acute medical problem. The patient was so satisfied with the care he received at PBMC that he has had his doctor from New York refer him to PBMC for other care he has needed.

The outside perspective is important because familiarity makes some people not realize how good the service is here, Johnson said. He noted that some people are unhappy with a 20-minute wait in the emergency department while multiple hours of waiting is common in many hospitals outside Maine.

PBMC was one of two hospitals in Maine to receive the top hospital honor by Leapfrog. Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston was the other hospital recognized.

The designation recognizes hospitals that deliver the highest quality care by preventing medical errors, reducing mortality for high-risk procedures like heart bypass surgery, and reducing hospital readmissions for patients being treated for conditions like pneumonia and heart attack, according to Leapfrog.

Five other Maine hospitals in Maine were recognized by Leapfrog as being among the top rural hospitals. Those were Calais Regional Hospital, Inland Hospital in Waterville, Mount Desert Island Hospital Organization, Rumford Hospital, and Sebasticook Valley Health in Pittsfield.

There are 40 hospitals that are part of the Maine Hospital Association.

Participation in Leapfrog is voluntary, Johnson said, but that most hospitals participate.

The Leapfrog report followed a number of other hospital quality ratings this year from various groups, including Consumer Reports and the Joint Commission, a hospital accreditation organization. Health experts debate which measures best reflect patient care.

Johnson pointed out that the Joint Commission concluded in its most recent review of Pen Bay that the Rockport hospital not only has top quality and safety but also offers services that most hospitals its size do not.

The Pen Bay Healthcare president said services that have been core services for PBMC such as cancer care, cardiology and orthopedic services are not offered in many hospitals of similar size. Pen Bay is looking to expand those core services, he said. He said that expansion is hoped to begin over the next year.

The decision was based on a review of demand for services by the community.

He said technology is available so Pen Bay can provide the service with the existing staff so that families do not have to travel long distances with an aging parent, for example.

During an interview Wednesday, Johnson said he is cautiously optimistic about the budget for the current fiscal year that began Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30. He said the budget anticipates a lower volume of services will be provided because of decreased overall demand. So far through nearly three months of the budget year, that is holding true.

He said no changes in staffing level are anticipated, but added that could change depending on economic or community circumstances.

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