Thursday January 31, 2013

PITTSFIELD

As chief quality officer of Berkshire Medical Center, I am justifiably proud of the many accomplishments of our team of committed professionals. Their accomplishments have been reported in depth by the Berkshire Eagle. Our team’s recent designation as a HealthGrades Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence means that BMC is again in the top 5 percent of the 4,500 hospitals in the United States. This award also reflects our excellent care across a broad range of medical and surgical conditions. HealthGrades is a national leader in providing the public with objective information about physicians and hospitals.

The HealthGrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence is based on a detailed analysis of patient outcomes over multiple years and across the health care continuum. HealthGrades reviews three years of outcomes in millions of patient encounters from information that all hospitals are required by law to submit to the federal government. No hospital pays to be reviewed by HealthGrades and no hospital can decline to be reviewed. HealthGrades adjusts the data using well-established methods in order to be sure that all institutions are on a level playing field. HealthGrades then announces and publishes the results for the public to access for all hospitals it surveys -- no hospital can ask not to be included in the published results. HealthGrades has now twice ranked BMC in the top 5 percent nationwide.

The outstanding level of care available to our community at Berkshire Medical Center has also been recognized by other widely respected national health care organizations. This year, CareChex, an independent quality ratings organization, relied upon nationally by businesses and other purchasers of health care services, also ranked Berkshire Medical Center in the top 5 percent nationally for overall hospital care and overall medical care -- in fact, number 118 out of the nearly 4,000 hospitals evaluated.

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The Leapfrog Group, an independent rating agency specifically formed for the benefit employers and insurers to evaluate hospital services nationwide, scored Berkshire Medical Center with an "A" rating in patient safety. For more than 50 years, the Joint Commission has evaluated and accredited hospitals and other health care providers across the country. In 2013, the Joint Commission designated Berkshire Medical Center as a "Top Performer" hospital, a designation earned by only 620 hospitals nationwide and 10 in Massachusetts. BMC has also been recognized over many years by the American Heart Association with its highest awards for coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke care.

The awards and recognition that BMC has received in 2013 and earlier from various evaluators are, of course, an important validation of the quality of the care available to our neighbors, colleagues, families and friends here in the Berkshires. These awards were, however, preceded by a commitment of Berkshire Health Systems to providing the highest quality of care here at home and then the dedicated, day-in-day-out work of our physicians, nurses and other clinical and support staff to assure that level of care. In other words, the exceptional level of quality care comes first, and the awards are given because of that care.

Our community is fortunate that Berkshire Health Systems has been able to provide the resources we need to deliver the best care, one patient at a time. This includes outstanding physicians, nurses and staff, a comprehensive electronic medical record, the latest in surgical technology and operating suites, state-of-the-art diagnostic radiology and laboratory equipment and top level emergency care. From the second a patient walks through the door or is transported by EMS, patients and their families can be confident they will receive the best care in the country, right here at home.

Such consistent recognition by different evaluators over multiple years does not happen by chance. It occurs when all members of our health system passionately commit to the best of care for each and every member of our Berkshire community. The HealthGrades Distinguished Hospital Award and the other awards recognize an exceptional part of life here in the Berkshires. We are hopeful that the entire community will take pride in what they represent.

Gray Ellrodt, M.D., is chief quality officer, chairman, Department of Medicine, Berkshire Medical Center.