October 25, 2013

Maine’s hospitals ranked top in nation for safety

Mercy Hospital keeps its ‘A’ grade while Maine Medical Center stays at ‘B.’


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Mercy Hospital has earned a top safety rating from Leapfrog, a nonprofit hospital safety group.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Other hospitals’ grades improved, including Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, which went from a B grade six ago to an A grade this week.

In May, Gerald Cayer, Franklin’s executive vice president, predicted an improvement from the B grade, which he said was more a result of the manner in which Leapfrog’s assessment forms had been handled than actual safety deficiencies.

This week, Cayer’s prediction came true.

The hospital has changed its employee evaluation process to hold employees more accountable, which helped improve its grade, according to Ralph Johnson, Franklin’s chief information officer.

He said the hospital made the change after Leapfrog pointed out that it was an important component of hospital safety.

Waterville’s Inland Hospital maintained its A grade, which matters not only to the patients, but to the staff, said Rick Barry, vice president of patient care services at Inland.

“There’s definitely a sense of pride in the staff that their efforts are recognized by an external agency,” he said.

York Hospital, in York, also improved – from a C to an A.

The other 13 hospitals assessed by Leapfrog maintained their grades.

John Dalton, president and chief executive officer at Inland, who called Inland’s A grade a validation of hard work, said Maine’s hospitals benefit from being in tight-knit communities.

“People are taking care of their own,” he said. “It’s not very impersonal.”

Johnson said one reason Maine’s hospitals do well is that they are willing to work together with potential competitors if it serves the patient’s interest.

Unlike in other states, he said, Maine’s hospitals have agreed to make patient data as accessible as possible to other providers, no matter where they come from.

“We need to not hold the patient’s record hostage,” he said.

While the news is good for Maine, Austin said, the encouraging data can’t be seen as a reason to relax.

“We’re doing well,” Austin said, “but nobody thinks doing the best is the equivalent of being perfect. We have to continue to improve.”

The Leapfrog Group is a national organization supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Leapfrog was founded in 2000 with support from the health insurance industry. It publishes the survey partly so purchasers can structure their contracts to reward the highest-performing hospitals.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:


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