Community Alert

Northfield Hospital & Clinics

(Photo courtesy of Gregory Wanbaugh and Northfield Hospital & Clinics)

Northfield Hospital & Clinics administrators already knew that patients held the hospital in high regard.

That’s because hospital officials have been surveying patients about their experiences for a long time and adjusting services and the way things are done based on those answers.

But now the entire nation can see where NH&C stacks up against state and national health care facilities because of a new 5-star scale to rate the country’s hospitals, devised by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Patients responding to a new federal scoring system say Northfield Hospital & Clinics is holding its own.

According to analysis by Kaiser Health News and reported in the Business Journal, Minnesota’s hospitals had an average rating of 3.9 stars, placing it tied for third nationwide − behind Wisconsin (ranked second with a 4 stars) and Maine and South Dakota (4.1 stars, tied for first).

Kaiser Health News noted that only 251 hospitals in the country received the top rating, about 7 percent of all those judged by Medicare.

The star rating is an average of 11 topic-specific measures, which combines information about different aspects of patient experience of care to make it easier to compare hospitals.

According to the Kaiser Health News data, Northfield Hospital received a 4-star rating, putting it in good company with other 4-star hospitals in the state like Mayo Clinic-Rochester, Douglas County Hospital in Alexandria, St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud and Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis.

“It’s very reinforcing,” said Northfield Hospital & Clinics CEO and President Steve Underdahl. “It’s encouraging in that it gives us evidence of what we’re doing. And it comes from patient experiences.”

Underdahl said the hospital has been working very hard on making the patient experience the best it can be. He said the practice of giving all patients a discharge manual when they leave the hospital to help them better understand their treatment plan, medication list and any special instructions has helped increase patient satisfaction.

“It’s nice to see statistical evidence of the things we’ve been trying to do,” Underdahl said. “There’s a benefit to being smaller and being purposeful. The hospital staff is constantly trying to do ‘the next right thing.’”

Underdahl said that they are trying to build that slogan into the culture in a meaningful way.

“We want everyone here to know they have permission to help,” he said. “There is a sense of ownership and stewardship for this facility and a lot of people in Northfield look at the hospital as a community treasure.”

When it is all said and done, Underdahl is very pleased with the 4-star rating, but he knows there are always ways to improve services and care at Northfield Hospital & Clinics.

“We hope to keep this momentum going,” he said. “Our purposeful approach is one way to do that. Our cultural competence to all age groups is also a key. One size does not fit all.”

Reach Managing Editor Jerry Smith at 645-1136, or follow him on Twitter.com @NewsNorthfield

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