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Northeast Georgia Medical Center ranks in nations top 100 hospitals
Northeast Georgia Medical Center RN Niru Patel hands Amber Froyen her newborn daughter, Elizabeth, on Friday in the hospital’s Women & Children’s Pavilion. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

Hospital patients in Gainesville will receive care that only 99 other hospitals in the nation can provide, according to a report from HealthGrades.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center was named as one of the top 100 hospitals in the nation for 2012 by the health information company.

"First and foremost, I think it's a demonstration that we are focused on the right things for our community, for our patients," said Carol Burrell, CEO of the medical center. "I think it reaffirms, hopefully, (the community's) trust that we are focused on our mission and are headed in the right direction."

The medical center was one of only three hospitals in the state to grace the list.

Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, along with their Duluth campus, and Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins also were named top 100 hospitals.

HealthGrades, a third-party company that compiles information on physicians and hospitals through their own research, based selections on hospitals' "consistent clinical outcomes over time."

Those outcomes include rates for mortality, morbidity, complications, length of stay and other factors conducive to good hospital care.

"(The distinction) really speaks to the commitment of the clinical staff and physician buy-in to the process of quality assurance and adherence to core measures," said Dr. Tim Scully, chief of staff at the medical center.

According to HealthGrades' study, patients at hospitals named to their top 100 list have a 30 percent lower chance of dying compared to all other hospitals.

They say if all hospitals performed at the level that Northeast Georgia Medical Center shows, almost 180,000 deaths from 2008 to 2010 could have been prevented.

The medical center sees around 350,000 patients per year and its level of success, according to hospital administration, could not be reached without forward-thinking, passionate personnel.

"It starts with people, of course," said Scully. "We're going to try to recruit high-performing physicians and other mid-levels and other health professionals who are not only doing their job and punching a clock, but going beyond that and wanting to do as well as they can for our patients."

The success started compounding after the heart surgery program was started in 2000.

That program has been ranked as the state's best for the last seven years.

"That, among other things like physician cooperation, was a linchpin in launching off our success this decade," said Scully, who added that would not have happened without the work of Lynda Adams, currently the hospital's quality assurance director.

Scully said the success of that program motivated other areas of the hospital to perform consistently at a high level.

Now the medical center boasts top ranked programs like critical care medicine, gastrointestinal surgery, general surgery and more.

"We feel that having started the heart surgery program in 2000 and having people come in that are committed to excellence, that it has raised the bar for the entire system," Scully said. But as the hospital continues to see success and growth, it continues to improve, never settling for present accolades. "The bar keeps getting raised every year," said Burrell.

"As much as I'm excited about this, to be honest with you, we've continued to improve in each of the categories. So, it's exciting to know we've achieved this for this report, but we're still improving."


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