By Lu Ann Franklin
For the second consecutive year, three area hospitals in four communities have been named among the nation's top 5 percent in women's care.
Community Hospital in Munster, Methodist Hospitals in both Gary and Merrillville and St. Margaret Mercy Hospital in Hammond received the Women's Health Excellence Award from HealthGrades, the leading independent health care ratings organization based in Golden, Colo.
The hospitals are among only 166 in the United States to receive this award nationwide. In Indiana, only eight hospitals were given this distinction, including three in Indianapolis, one in Fort Wayne and one in New Albany.
The HealthGrades Seventh Annual Women's Health in American Hospitals report analyzed almost 7 million hospitalization records at nearly 5,000 nonfederal hospitals across the country from 2006 to 2008. The three-year study based on Medicare admissions evaluated 16 women's medical procedures including cardiovascular, bone and joint health treatments.
This study highlighted that women and men experience different outcomes at U.S. hospitals for the same procedures and treatments, said Rick May, M.D., a HealthGrades vice president and an author of the study.
Compared with men, women had a higher risk of mortality in three cardiovascular procedures and a 5.8 percent higher risk of dying of a stroke. "The differences in these many areas are huge," May said.
"Fortunately, women now can find this information and have access to great tools, available at HealthGrades.com, to find those hospitals that have the best track record of providing high-quality care to women."
According to the study, the hospitals receiving the HealthGrades award improved their mortality rates among women by 15 percent over the three years studied.
"The data suggests that if all hospitals nationwide performed at the level of the award recipients, a total of 16,893 women could have potentially survived their hospitalizations and 4,735 women could have potentially avoided a major in-hospital complication," May said.
As a group, the hospitals receiving this award had women's mortality rates that were nearly 41 percent lower than the poorest-performing hospitals in the study and complication rates that were 19 percent lower than those same low-rated institutions.
Administrators at the Northwest Indiana hospitals hailed the award.
"It takes a dedicated team of physicians, specialists, clinical staff and nurses to continue to deliver the highest quality care to residents, particularly the women, of our community day in and day out," said Don Fesko, CEO of Community Hospital.
Women are often the "health care drivers in their family, but overlook their own health needs," said Ian Fadden, CEO/president of Methodist Hospitals. "It is important that women take care of themselves. Not only will it improve their own quality of life, but also the lives of the people they care for."
St. Margaret Mercy President Tom Gryzbek said the hospital's focus "has always been to bring the best health care to our community, with the best physicians and professionals in their fields. Providing exceptional health care to women is especially important because healthy women cultivate healthy families.
Community Hospital in Munster, Methodist Hospitals in both Gary and Merrillville and St. Margaret Mercy Hospital in Hammond also have received other awards given by HealthGrades this year.
Community Hospital was named one of America's 50 Best Hospitals for a third consecutive year, and among the top 10 percent in the nation for overall critical care, joint replacement and prostatectomy surgery.
Methodist Hospitals is the recipient of HealthGrades' 2010 Stroke Care Excellence Award and also received five-star ratings for treatment of heart failure, treatment of respiratory failure and gastrointestinal surgeries and procedures.
St. Margaret Mercy Hospital was honored with HealthGrades' 2010 Cardiac Surgery Excellence Award and a 2010 Pulmonary Care Excellence Award by HealthGrades.