AP NEWS

Hospitals evaluated for Medicare report: Valley View receives 3 stars; WARMC disputes 1-star rating

May 4, 2019

This story has been updated to correct the name of Valley View Medical Center in Fort Mohave.

BULLHEAD CITY — Acute-care hospitals in the Bullhead City and Fort Mohave were among thousands in the nation included in a report about quality of patient care conducted for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital Quality Initiative.

Valley View Medical Center in Fort Mohave received a three-star rating while Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City was rated at one star.

An overall five-star rating is highest and one-star is lowest. Three stars is the common score nationally.

Hospital Compare provides information for people to consider before going to a hospital for treatment. Highlighted are health problems that hospital staff responds to often, such as heart attacks, pneumonia and broken bones.

It provides statistics on mortality, safety, patient re-admission, effectiveness of care, patient experience, timeliness of care and effective use of medical imaging. It’s strongly emphasized that in an emergency it’s best to get the ailing person to the nearest hospital as soon as possible to begin treatment.

A Valley View Medical Center spokesman said the hospital is committed to earning the highest marks possible.

“We always strive to provide high-quality care to the area,” said Ryan Perkins, director of marketing and communications at VVMC and Havasu Regional Medical Center, which also received three stars. “Therefore, we have initiatives in place to keep raising the bar.”

These figures were collected from 2014, in some cases, and mostly through 2017 or early 2018.

A spokesperson for Western Arizona Regional Medical Center said that its one-star rating was disappointing.

“It is important to recognize that data used to determine star rating does not reflect our current picture,” said Jena Morga, marketing director of WARMC in Bullhead City. “Some of the data dates as far back as 2014 and does not consider the quality and safety practices that are in place under our current leadership.”

Both hospitals were faster than many others across the state and nation in getting an ECG for outpatients suffering from chest pain or having a possible heart attack. WARMC averaged a five-minute wait and VVMC did it within an average of seven minutes. The state and nationwide average is eight minutes.

The national average payment for care during the 30-day period that begins with entry into the hospital is $23,745. Each patient’s treatment cost can vary greatly and no amounts are noted for the hospitals. According to the report, WARMC charges an amount “greater than the national average” while VVMC is “no different than the national average.”

However, VVMC charges more than the national average for treatment of pneumonia while WARMC is no different than the national average.

Patients who arrive in the emergency room for treatment of broken bones waited an average of 37 minutes for pain medication at VVMC and 67 minutes at WARMC. The national average is 52 minutes.

Statistics on blood clot prevention weren’t available for either hospital.

In the portion of the report focusing on timely and effective care for severe sepsis and septic shock, 66% of WARMC patients obtained appropriate care while 43% of VVMC patients did. The state average was 46% and national average was just 51%.

Sepsis has been getting more attention than in the past. Two-thirds of patients hospitalized for sepsis are older than 65. These older patients more often end up in a hospital’s intensive care unit, are hospitalized longer and more likely will die, the Cleveland Clinic reported.

Both hospitals were better than average at assessing when a patient needed a flu shot, but below the national average when it comes to their healthcare workers getting shots.

Patient survey results alone netted VVMC three stars and WARMC two stars.

There weren’t major differences between VVMC and WARMC patient responses to many questions within this category.

The widest gap between WARMC and VVMC here was that more patients at VVMC, 63%, said the area around their room was quiet at night. Only 47% of WARMC patients responded positively to that question. The national average is 62%.

A category where both hospitals were close in the survey was whether patients were given information about what to do at home during their recovery once they leave the hospital. At VVMC, 85% and at WARMC 82% of patients responded positively. Both were slightly below the national average of 87%.

Most VVMC patients, 82%, said their room and bathroom were “always” clean while 71% of WARMC patients responded the same way. The national patient response was 75%.

Representatives for both hospitals continue working to improve care — especially in areas where scores could be better.

More than half of patients who receive care in U.S. hospitals are covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Nearly 41% of patients are enrolled in Medicare and about 17% are covered by Medicaid.

Private insurers, such as Blue Cross-Blue Shield, are used by 16.5% of patients and 14% are under health maintenance or preferred provider organizations. The rest either pay out-of-pocket for their health care or receive coverage under other government programs, such as worker’s compensation, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

The reports are available at https://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html. State and national statistics are often included for comparison.

Leave off the name of the hospital in the “Find a Hospital” box and receive a list of locations within 100 miles from the heart of a particular Zip code area. This makes it easier to compare information about two or three hospitals within that area.