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Northeast Georgia Medical Center named in top 5 percent for heart procedures

POSTED: October 16, 2009 11:29 p.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Dr. Daniel Winston, left, works on a heart bypass procedure Friday at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. The medical center has been recognized as the top hospital in Georgia for overall cardiac care.

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If you are in need of world-class cardiac care, look no further than your own backyard.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville has been recognized by HealthGrades as the No. 1 hospital for overall cardiac care in Georgia. This is the fifth year in the row the center has ranked in the top 5 percent in the nation for cardiac care.

"We are very proud of our title. This really shows the dedication of our staff and how hard we have worked," said Dr. Dan Winston, a medical director at the hospital’s Ronnie Green Heart Center.

"We are happy to have the title, but this isn’t something that we focus on at all. We focus on each patient as they come and try to provide the best care that we can. It’s like a football game — you take it one play at a time, do your best and if you win, that’s great."

HealthGrades is an independent organization that ranks hospitals based on data the facilities submit to the federal government. Hospitals can’t volunteer to be graded or decide not to be rated. The organization takes the data and analyzes the mortality and complication rates for given procedures in a variety of categories.

The cardiac category rates hospitals on overall cardiac services, cardiac surgery, non-surgical cardiology services and coronary interventional procedures. Out of all Georgia hospitals, Northeast Georgia Medical Center ranked first in all four of the cardiac categories. According to HealthGrades staff, the hospital is one of only six hospitals to have top ranking in all cardiac categories. The other hospitals are in Indiana, Maine, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virgina.

"I think this solidifies to the community that our heart program is as good as any hospital across the country," Winston said. "This proves that we can compete with any of the big-name hospitals."

Northeast Georgia Medical Center also received a five-star rating from HealthGrades for coronary bypass surgery, valve replacement surgery, coronary interventional procedures, treatment of heart attacks and treatment of heart failure. A five-star rating is given to hospitals whose mortality and complication rates are significantly below the national average.

Hall County residents aren’t the only ones benefitting from the cardiac expertise available at the hospital.

"Our location situates us very well to serve most of North Georgia; we have a very broad patient base," said Dr. Prad Tummala, one of the heart center’s medical directors.

"We serve not only Hall County, but also Forsyth, Lumpkin, Barrow, Stephens and Habersham (counties). We’re also drawing in patients from North and South Carolina."

Although the hospital’s heart center is at the center of the HealthGrades accolades, center staff say their success is a team effort.

"Our success is a big, systematic process. It starts with having a good vision, doing what we do well and recruiting others with experience," said Tummala.

"It’s not just about having good physicians to perform the procedures; patients need quality post-operative care. We have an excellent staff here. Once we achieve the (No. 1 ranking) it doesn’t stop there — improvement is an ongoing process."



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