SNMH joint replacement program earns recognition |

SNMH joint replacement program earns recognition

Special to The Union

The Blue Cross, Blue Shield Association has named Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital as a Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. SNMH is one of only 50 hospitals in California to receive that designation.

This new ranking recognizes the high quality of hip and knee replacement surgery done at SNMH, according to Dr. Joseph Britton, vice president of medical affairs. It also will make it possible for the many California Public Employees Retirement System members in the community to get such work done locally instead of having to use other hospitals.

"It's a very positive designation by one of the biggest health plans in the country," Dr. Britton noted. "It's an affirmation from an outside entity that recognizes the quality of work being done here."

To be singled out for its joint replacement work, the hospital had to provide a wide range of measures that demonstrate quality, safety, and efficiency, he said. These included average patient length of stay, infection rates, re-admittance rates, surgical technique, high volume, and community demographics.

Dr. Roland Dutton said he does from 150 to 200 total hip and knee joint replacements annually. But he has had to turn away many such procedures because CalPERS retirees get coverage for such surgery only if a hospital has the Distinction Center designation from Blue Cross, Blue Shield.

"Centers with this distinction need to perform at levels higher than normal," Dr. Dutton explained. "Until now, the only other hospitals in our area that had this rating were UC Davis Medical Center and Methodist Hospital. Those patients also had to go to those hospitals for follow-up care. So this designation clears SNMH to handle all of these patients locally, which will make it much more convenient for them."

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Dr. Minor does fewer full knee and hip joint replacements but shares the enthusiasm for the hospital's new distinction.

"It shows the importance of maintaining a high level of quality in what we do," he said. "It's very important to our community because we've got a very large retirement population that can keep our joint replacement service very busy. It's also a recognition of the quality of work done by our Operating Room teams, and the nurses on the floor."

The Blue Cross, Blue Shield Association added knee and hip replacement to its designation of distinction centers, which range from bariatric surgery to transplants and cardiac care. SNMH applied for the ranking late last year and just received notice of the designation, Dr. Britton said.

"This affirms that we do a great job for our patients and also puts us on a competitive edge with other hospitals for total hip and knee joint replacement procedures," he noted. "The Blue Cross, Blue Shield Association has recognized that we have the know-how, the expertise of the medical team, and an excellent track record of positive results."

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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