IRMC earns 'A' in semi-annual hospital ratings

For the first time in two years, Indiana Regional Medical Center is getting an “A” rating in the semi-annual Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade.

According to the ratings issued Tuesday for spring 2022, it is a national distinction that recognizes IRMC’s achievements in protecting patients from preventable harm and error in the hospital, one the local hospital shares with 33 percent of hospitals surveyed across the United States.

The Leapfrog Group, an independent national watchdog organization, assigns grades to general hospitals across the country based on more than 30 national performance measures reflecting errors, accidents, injuries and infections, as well as systems hospitals have in place to prevent harm.

IRMC last received “A” grades for the fall of 2019 and spring of 2020, then “B” grades for the fall of 2020 and spring and fall of 2021.

The latest Leapfrog rating comes during National Nurses Week (May 6-12) and National Hospital Week (May 8-14), said IRMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Neff.

“I am proud of the diligent work of the IRMC family across the organization, as they have continued to work together to strive and succeed at improving the quality of care at IRMC,” Neff said.

The Indiana County Board of Commissioners issued a proclamation hailing IRMC for having “served our communities with integrity, compassion, respect and excellence for over 100 years.”

The board also acknowledged that “IRMC proudly gives its best to all of the patients in the community” and “continues to safely meet the needs of patients and employees alike.”

The commissioners also noted that “IRMC maintains its commitment to serving the region by continually reinvesting in facilities, technology and people in order to provide the highest levels of care.”

The proclamation was presented to IRMC Director of Professional Practice Deana Szentmiklosi, Clinical Coordinator Nicole DeBuyser and Registered Nurse Pam Waltemire, as well as Marketing Specialist Taylor Shearer.

In November 2021, Waltemire was awarded the DAISY or “Diseases Attacking Immune SYstem” award from the DAISY Foundation, established in 1999 by the Barnes family to honor the memory of their son Patrick who died due to complications from an auto-immune disease.

While he was hospitalized, IRMC officials said, Patrick’s family “deeply appreciated not only the immense clinical skills, but also the enormous compassion shown to Pat and his family by his nurses.”

“We are very fortunate to have IRMC in our community,” Commissioner Sherene Hess said.

“From a very young age,” Commissioner Robin Gorman said she saw what nurses did and, “I could never do that.”

Gorman said the pandemic opened eyes to the importance of nurses in the same way the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, opened eyes to the importance of first responders.

“It has been a trying time,” said Szentmiklosi about the pandemic. “In some ways, it has brought us together.”

Leapfrog is the only hospital ratings program based exclusively on hospital prevention of medical errors and harms to patients. The grading system is peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public, at hospitalsafetygrade.org.

“As our health care system continues to feel the strain of the pandemic, I thank the workforce and leadership of IRMC for sustained commitment to patient safety, day in and day out,” Leapfrog President and CEO Leah Binder said. “An ‘A’ Safety Grade is an outstanding achievement, and one that is not possible without a 24/7 effort by the entire health care workforce to protect patients from harm. This community should be proud.”

Other “A” grades were given regionally to Excela’s Latrobe and Westmoreland (Greensburg) hospitals, and UPMC’s East (Monroeville) and Altoona hospitals.

Leapfrog reported that 24 percent of hospitals surveyed across the country had “B” grades in spring 2022.

“B” grades were given regionally to Allegheny Health Network’s Forbes Hospital (Monroeville) and Penn Highlands DuBois.

Leapfrog reported that 36 percent of hospitals surveyed nationwide had “C” grades in spring 2022.

“C” grades were given regionally to Punxsutawney Area Hospital, IRMC’s partner in the Pennsylvania Mountains Health Care Network, ACMH Hospital in Kittanning, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber, AHN’s Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights, and Excela’s Frick Hospital in Mount Pleasant.

Seven percent of hospitals surveyed scored a “D” rating.

One “D” was reported within 50 miles of Indiana, at Duke LifePoint’s Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.

Less than 1 percent of hospitals surveyed received “F” grades.

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