Gary Cooke
Special to The Union

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June 4, 2013
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Hospital awarded for excellence


Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) has quietly gathered up some significant quality care achievements and recognitions this year, and they’re not the kinds – like trophies – that gather dust on the mantle.

So says Debbie Plass, RN, vice president of business development and marketing for the hospital.

“These awards go deep into our organization and reflect the excellent care of teams of doctors, nurses, health care professionals and others,” she said. “They’re the kinds of awards we work hard to get, and then skillfully sustain. They are granted only after data analysis and peer review from organizations that set standards for excellent hospital care all across the nation.”

Most recently, the hospital was recognized under the Blue Shield Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement Program. Only 50 California hospitals received that distinction, awarded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

To earn the designation, Plass said SNMH had to demonstrate high levels of achievement in quality, safety, and efficiency. To measure these characteristics, the Association analyzed average patient length of stay, re-admittance rates, infection rates, surgical technique, community demographics and patient volume.

The hospital’s stroke center has earned the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers. This award, Plass explained, is based on recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association.

“To get this designation, we have to meet or exceed these requirements and continue to demonstrate an outstanding track record in the care of stroke patients,” she said. “People may not realize this because we’re a ‘rural’ hospital, yet the services at SNMH are comparable to the quality care at Stanford and other university medical centers. We’re also in linked to Telehealth Network for stroke consultation at Mercy San Juan Medical Center. This program was featured in the USA Today publication on May 24, 2013 in an article titled ‘Paging R2-D2 to the ER.’ This Telehealth Network gives our patients access to neuroscience specialists, 24 hours a day at one of the best institutions in America.”

The SNMH Women’s Imaging Center (WIC) has earned its annual designation as a Certified Quality Breast Center of Excellence. This certification is done by the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers Program, and is the highest level of quality breast health care recognized, Plass said.

“This represents that our WIC has met or surpassed over thirty national quality indicators for breast health,” she said.

The American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation renewed a three-year certification for the hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program. Hospital cardiovascular services range from non-invasive 3-D imagery to a comprehensive rehab program designed to help patients live functional lives.

“We are recognized as leaders in the field of cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation,” Plass said.

Plass noted that the hospital takes seriously its role as the leading healthcare organization in the community by encouraging good fitness practices among its own employees. For this, SNMH has been singled out as an American Heart Association Fit-Friendly Workplace – Platinum for the past four years.

“We continue to help reduce the risk of heart disease and other health issues by incorporating activities that people can do at work,” she said. “We have a walking path, employees are invited to use our rehab gym after hours, and we provide wellness classes, fitness awareness activities and other innovative programs that may help employees reduce stress while advancing the cause of their own good health.”

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.


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The Union Updated Jun 4, 2013 01:22AM Published Jun 4, 2013 01:23AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.