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Hospital among top 100 in nation

POSTED: March 30, 2010 11:13 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

The Northeast Georgia Medical Center was named one of the nation's top 100 hospitals, according to a study released by Thomson Reuters. From left is Dr. Philip Marler, left, chief of staff at Northeast Georgia Medical Center and internist with the Longstreet Clinic, and Jim Gardner, president and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health Systems.

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Northeast Georgia Medical Center has been named one of the nation’s top 100 hospitals.

A study released by Thomson Reuters, an independent news and business organization, ranked the hospital in 10 areas and compared its performance against similarly sized, nonteaching hospitals across the country.

The hospital also received the 100 Top Hospitals Everest Award, which was awarded to 23 of the top 100 hospitals that showed the greatest sustained improvements.

“It just doesn’t get any better than this,” said Jim Gardner, president and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System.

“This is a big moment in the history of this organization.”

The 10 criteria hospitals are judged on are mortality, medical complications, patient safety, average length of stay, expenses, profitability, patient satisfaction, adherence to clinical standards of care and post-discharge mortality and readmission rates for acute heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia.

“You can’t excel at one to the detriment of another,” Gardner said. “You have to be good in all 10 areas.”

Gardner said hospital staff at all levels factored into the recognition.

“It’s a validation and acknowledgement of our medical staff, our clinical staff, our boards, our folks on the front line that take care of thousands of patients each year that the job they’re doing is best of class,” Gardner said.

Gardner said the hospital has been very close to becoming one of the top 100 hospitals for years, and the consistent quality paid off.

“As excited as I am about the Top 100 award ... the Everest Award actually means more, I believe,” Gardner said. “It is representative of sustained change over the most recent five-year period.”

Gardner said one of the researchers for the Thompson Reuters said Northeast Georgia Medical Center showed some of the most rapid improvement ever measured over a five-year period.

Dr. Philip Marler, chief of staff for the hospital, said medical center will have to work hard to keep the status as a top 100 facility.

Hospitals of similar size and capability will be improving to compete for the same designation.

“We’re going to continue looking at our relative weaknesses and continue to improve our processes and our patient care so we intend to keep it,” Marler said. “This isn’t going to be a one-year phenomenon.”

Marler said Northeast Georgia Medical Center is the only hospital in the state that was named in the top 100.

It is also located in one of the smallest cities on the list.

“For a relatively small town like this to have such a great health care facility is almost unheard of,” Marler said. “For us to have earned that is, to me, incredible.”

Gardner said he thinks the hospital’s award will benefit the entire region.

“I think it’s exciting for our community,” Gardner said. “When businesses are thinking about locating in a community, they look at the schools, they look at the quality of life, the quality of roads and government. They also look at the quality of health care that’s provided. To know that we’re doing our part is very gratifying.”



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