How does Dixie Regional compare to other hospitals?

Dixie Regional Medical Center's River Road Campus, St. George, Utah, Oct. 28, 2016 | St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Last month, Dixie Regional Medical Center was recognized as one of the Top 50 cardiovascular hospitals in the nation. However, how does DRMC rank when compared to the rest of the state and the nation?

In December 2011, the Utah Department of Health released the Utah Hospital Comparison Report for 2008-2010. Hospitals are compared against the state and national average, and given rankings of Below Average, Average, Better, and Best.

The hospitals ranked Best are among the Top 10 percent in the state or the nation, depending on the category selected.

Among the categories covered in the comparison report are: the quality of care, average costs, readmission rates, following recommended care guidelines, patient-doctor communication and overall patient satisfaction.

While the collected data will provide in-depth information for healthcare professionals, policy makers and legislators, it is also available to the public.

[There are two versions of the report. The original version produced by the UDOH is quite detailed and data-heavy, while the second version is more user-friendly and not as research intensive.]

DRMC is already nationally recognized for its high standard of cardiovascular care, but how does it compare in other areas?

The hospital ranked among the Top 10 percent nationally in the following:

Childbirth involving caesarian sections

  • DRMC has among the lowest rates of caesarian section childbirths involving first-time mothers.
  • The hospital has a high rate of uncomplicated vaginal births performed after C-sections.

According to the Mayo Clinic, complications that may rise from a C-section include increased bleeding, blood clots, adverse reactions to anesthesia, infection, and other difficulties.

There is also the potential for serious risks during a future childbirth, which the Mayo Clinic lists as “bleeding, placenta previa and tearing of the uterus along the scar line from the prior C-section (uterine rupture).”

Gay Cunningham, the chief nurse for DMRC and Intermountain Healthcare’s southwestern region, credited the programs the hospital had in place that kept C-sections low and uncomplicated post-C-section births high.

“Our women and children’s programs have worked hard to improve [this area],” she said. “It’s one of the things Dixie does very well.”

Deaths and readmissions

A readmission is when a patient has to return to the hospital. A high number of deaths or readmissions may mean the hospital is not treating people effectively.

  • Mortality rates for death occurring in DRMC – during surgery and after – are ranked as average in the state, and are among the best in the nation.
  • This category includes heart surgeries and procedures, heart failure, returning after receiving care for heart failure, stroke and pneumonia.

For stroke care in particular, Cunningham said there was a specially trained nurse at DRMC who did an exceptional job. Cunningham also mentioned Dr. Brent Christian, a member of Intermountain in Salt Lake City, who advocated putting post-stroke observations units in hospitals.

The observation units allow medical staff to determine whether or not a recovering stroke patient shows potential signs of having another stroke in the near future. If so, preventive measures are taken, thus preserving the patient’s life.

“We’re on the cutting edge of stroke care,” Cunningham said.

Patient experience and overall satisfaction

Patient experience primarily covered the following:

  • Communication
  • Environment
  • Overall satisfaction

DRMC ranked better-than-average on the state and national level when it came to communication between the patient and the doctors and nurses who tended to them. Patients receiving information on what to do during their recovery at home – details on the care they would need and the symptoms or health problems to watch out for – was rated as being among the top 10 percent nationally.

The hospital also received a better- than-average score in the state and nationally for the patient-friendly environment its staff maintained.

According to the report, patients surveyed indicated the staff was quick to respond to their needs. The patients’ pain was also recorded as “well-controlled” during the duration of their stay. Patients were also pleased with how clean their rooms and bathrooms were kept.

“We have a great housekeeping staff,” said Terri Draper, the public relations director for Intermountian’s southwestern region.

DRMC’s clean environment was something the staff was proud of, Draper added.

As for overall satisfaction, patient surveys rated DRMC as one of Utah’s above average hospitals, and would readily recommend the facility to friends and family. On the national level, the hospital is also among the top 10 percent to be recommended by former patients.

A national model

Within Utah, DRMC ranks as one of the state’s better hospitals. Outside of the state, there are categories where it ranks among the best in the nation.

“We try to be a national model,” Draper said.

Given that DRMC is operated by Utah-based healthcare provider Intermountain, the Draper’s statement may not be that far off. In recent years, Intermountain’s quality of healthcare has been nationally recognized by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and even President Barack Obama as a model the rest of the nation could benefit from.

Still, being one of the better hospitals in Utah and among the best in the nations takes work.

“It’s a team effort,” Cunningham said.

It was because of that teamwork, she said, that the hospital’s “overall quality rankings are high.”

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Copyright 2012 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.

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