St. Francis does it again

Mirror staff

If a top-ranked hospital is important to people looking for a city to live in, Federal Way has it.

For the fifth consecutive year, St. Francis Hospital has been named a Top 100 hospital in the United States for the fifth consecutive year following a national study by Solucient, an independent healthcare research and ratings firm.

The rating means St. Francis remains one of the leading hospitals nationwide in terms of overall medical care and services for patients, according to Solucient.

That’s important to Federal Way residents, as well as outsiders who might be thinking of moving here, said City Councilwoman Linda Kochmar.

“Some of the first things people ask is how are the schools and how is the healthcare,” she said. “A good local hospital is a real integral part of an attractive community.”

Whether senior citizens who want medical attention nearby, expectant mothers wanting a well-respected place to deliver their babies or anyone in general who might some day need an emergency room, there is no substitute for a hospital they can call their own, Kochmar said.

“You need those services. I’m thrliled we have such good ones through St. Francis,” said Kochmar, who was among civic leaders who helped mount a drive for a local hospital that resulted in Franciscan Health System opening St. Francis in 1987.

Another Franciscan-run hospital, St. Clare in Lakewood, also is in Solucient’s latest Top 100. St. Clare is there for the fourth straight year.

“We are very proud” of the two hospitals, said Joe Wilczek, chief executive officer of Franciscan Health System. He said their “physicians, nurses, managers and other staff are innovative and committed to providing excellent care for patients.”

The Solucient rankings, which are for 2003, came from the organization’s 11th annual study of approximately 6,000 hospitals that accept patient-care reimbursements from Medicare.

Solucient reviewed hospitals’ quality of care, operational efficiency, financial performance and adaptation to environment. The Top 100 are more likely to address the needs of terminally ill patients through hospice services than other acute-care hospitals, Solucient said.

Franciscan Health System, a not-for-profit organization, provides hospice and end-of-life services in the south King County area and in Pierce County.

According to Solucient, if all acute-care hospitals were like the Top 100, about 95,000 more Medicare patients could survive and an additional 77,000 patient stays could be complication-free at an estimated annual savings of $8.8 billion.

The management of the “100 top hospitals have led their facilities to the highest performance levels in the nation by adopting new approaches that facilitate optimum care for patients, based on their real needs. “The greater use of hospice services at these organizations is a reflection of this commitment,” said Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president of Solucient’s Center for Healthcare Improvement.

Another Solucient vice president, David Foster, noted that “as the nation’s population ages, end-of-life care will affect greater numbers of people and consume a growing amount of resources. Recent surveys show an increasing awareness of end-of-life care issues among providers and consumers. It is reassuring that the 100 top hospitals (are aware) of the importance of hospice care for their patients.”

Solucient also said that at St. Francis and the other Top 100:

•Patients have 13 percent fewer complications.

•Patients return to everyday life faster. On average, they’re released nearly half a day sooner.

•Average expenses per discharge are 16 percent lower ($4,147, versus $4,950 at non-ranked hospitals).

•Salaries and benefits per full-time employee are nearly 3 percent higher than other hospitals, attracting top talent.

•The cash flow-to-total debt ratio is nearly 119 percent higher than other hospitals.

St. Francis, which has 110 patient beds and about 820 employees, is ranked in the medium community hospital category by Solucient.

Franciscan Health System is owned by Catholic Health Initiatives, one of the largest not-for-profit healthcare systems in the U.S.

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