Alle-Kiski Medical Center gets exceptional performance rating

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009

The Alle-Kiski Medical Center is performing in the top 1 percent of hospitals nationwide based on an independent review of mortality and complication rates, a hospital official said.

The 258-bed facility in Harrison, part of the West Penn Allegheny Health System, received the highest possible five-star rating in 12 clinical areas from HealthGrades, a health care ratings organization based in Golden, Colo.

HealthGrades has been rating hospitals for 12 years based on data obtained from the federal government and 19 states, including Pennsylvania, said spokesman Scott Shapiro. Its "Hospital Quality in America" study analyzed patient outcomes from nearly 40 million Medicare hospitalization records from 2006, 2007 and 2008.

For the 17 procedures and diagnoses for which HealthGrades analyzed mortality rates, patients at top hospitals had a 72 percent lower chance of dying compared with the lowest performing hospitals, and a 52 percent lower chance of dying when compared to the national average.

"The reality is hospital quality varies quite widely from one hospital to another and, even within a hospital, from one department to another," Shapiro said. "HealthGrades ratings allow individuals to compare their local hospitals and look at patient outcomes of particular procedures at their local hospitals."

Alle-Kiski received specialty excellence awards for pulmonary care and critical care services, ranking among the top 10 percent or better among all hospitals nationwide in both categories.

It received five-star ratings for heart attack, heart failure, spine surgery, overall pulmonary services, gastrointestinal surgery and procedures, and overall critical care services. Hospitals receiving five-star ratings have mortality or complication rates below the national average.

In other areas ranked by HealthGrades, the center scored a three-star rating, meaning it performs as expected, said Michael Harlovic, the center's senior vice president and chief operating officer.

"Most people would probably be shocked to realize how high we rate," Harlovic said. "When you rate for the care you give in Natrona Heights in the top 1 percent of hospitals nationally, that's quite impressive."

For four years in a row, the center has received HealthGrades' Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence, and will learn in January if it has received it for a fifth consecutive year, Harlovic said.

"I think it's a compliment to the medical staff and all the clinical staff at the hospital," Harlovic said of the center's rankings. "It's an independent agency. They use publicly reported data, so all hospitals in the United States are compared to each other. They look at your complication rates, your mortality rates and the overall quality of care you're giving and they rate you. It's a huge compliment to the efforts we put forth offering quality care at the hospital."

As a community hospital, Alle-Kiski specializes in general medicine, general surgery and orthopedic surgery, Harlovic said. It has a staff of about 250 physicians and serves 33 communities in the four-county area.

"Our mission is to meet the general health care needs of the community, and we do an exceptionally good job at doing that," Harlovic said. "We are very much a gateway to a higher level of care at our sister facilities, such as Allegheny General Hospital. If you come in here and you're going to need emergency open heart surgery, we have protocols to get you to Pittsburgh to get treatment."

Additional Information:

On the Web

To see detailed data on hospitals, physicians and nursing homes, visit HealthGrades online at .

Additional Information:

How they scored

Here are awards and overall service ratings that HealthGrades gave to a sampling of area hospitals. Hospitals were not rated in areas where they treated fewer than 30 patients with that procedure or diagnosis.

Alle-Kiski Medical Center

Awards: Distinguished Hospital Award. Excellence awards for Clinical, Patient Safety, Critical Care and Pulmonary Care.

Service ratings: Pulmonary and critical care • best. Orthopedic, gastrointestinal, stroke, general surgery • as expected.

Armstrong County Memorial Hospital

Awards: None.

Service ratings: Stroke, general surgery • as expected. Pulmonary • poor.

Butler Memorial Hospital

Awards: Cardiac Surgery Excellence Award

Service ratings: Cardiac, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, critical care, stroke, general surgery • as expected. Orthopedic • poor.

Allegheny General Hospital

Awards: Excellence awards for Cardiac Care, Coronary Intervention, Gastrointestinal Care, Gastrointestinal Surgery, General Surgery and Stroke Care.

Service ratings: Stroke • best. Cardiac, orthopedic, pulmonary, vascular, gastrointestinal, critical care, general surgery • as expected.

Western Pennsylvania Hospital

Awards: Excellence awards for Bariatric Surgery and Joint Replacement.

Service ratings: Cardiac, orthopedic, pulmonary, vascular, critical care, stroke, general surgery • as expected.

UPMC Presbyterian

Awards: Excellence awards for Patient Safety and Pulmonary Care.

Service ratings: Cardiac, pulmonary, gastrointestinal • as expected. Orthopedic, vascular, critical care, stroke, general surgery • poor.

Source: HealthGrades

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