Major local hospitals rank poorly in Medicare reviews

Hospital leadership says the results are a little misleading

St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, Ohio

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Two of the Valley’s biggest hospitals haven’t fared well in recently-released government ratings, but a representative of one of the hospitals says those results are a bit misleading.

Medicare released its hospital rankings in July, giving St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown and its Boardman campus just one and two stars, respectively. The average score across the nation was 3 stars, which was received by almost 49 percent of the hospitals surveyed.

Medicare’s rating took dozens of quality measures and divided them into seven categories, such as safety and timeliness of care and whether patients had to come back for further treatment.

St. Elizabeth ranked below the national average in four of those seven categories; and its Boardman campus was below average in three of the categories. Neither were above the national average.

Hospitals across the US. complained about different ways the scores were weighted, including one problem St. Elizabeth Vice President Don Koenig said he discovered when reviewing the results.

“We had a lot of fields, more than I like, with no data submitted or no data available for this period. So that’s also what we’ll be working on, is making sure we have the full data in the hands of the government in every one of those fields,” he said.

St. Elizabeth is licensed for 600 beds in Youngstown and 248 in Boardman.

It isn’t the only hospital receiving low reviews locally — Northside Medical Center and Sharon Regional Health System each received two stars under the ranking system.

Koenig said the hospitals are now working with doctors and nurses to understand how they can improve patient and family experience, plus do follow-up with patients when they’re discharged so they don’t have to return. He said no one was terminated over the rankings.

“All three of our hospitals scored very well as a good, high-quality, high-reliability hospital for the things that 95 percent of us need — heart attack, knee and hip replacement, those sorts of things,” he said.

Koenig said the challenge is that St. Elizabeth sees some of the sickest and poorest people in the area. He said it’s always ready to handle every situation as a Level 1 Trauma hospital, which Koenig feels is more important than a star rating.

“We are the major, lifesaving hospital in the entire Valley. None of that has changed,” he said. “We are still the preferred place for people to come with strokes, with heart attacks, ’cause we have the whole team standing by ready to help. Please don’t let that one-time, one-star rating convince you there’s been a radical change.”

This was the first time Medicare issued the star ratings. Some of the data is updated quarterly, and some is updated annually.

St.Elizabeth has scored well in other rankings. U.S. News and World Report has the hospitals ranked in the state’s top 20.

Southwoods received the highest ranking of five stars, with its highest marks in patient experience.

St. Joseph Hospital in Warren, Alliance Community Hospital, Grove City Medical Center and Trumbull Memorial Hospital all received four stars.

East Liverpool City Hospital, Ellwood City Hospital, Jameson Memorial Hospital, Salem Regional Hospital and UPMC Horizon were issued a three-star rating.

You can also view the hospitals’ rankings on Medicare’s website.

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