By Payne Horning
St. Joseph’s Health Hospital in Syracuse has been named the best hospital in Central New York.
More than 4,500 community hospitals in the country were evaluated for the annual U.S. News & World Report ranking. St. Joseph’s came in at No. 19 in New York, higher than any in the region but behind hospitals in New York City, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo.
Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira and St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica all tied for No. 25 within the state.
“We’re really happy about it,” said Leslie Luke, St. Joseph’s president CEO. “I think that a lot of our colleagues look at things like this mainly as the indicator of how they’re performing. So when we receive recognition like that, it’s an affirmation of the quality of work that they’re doing.”
Four main criteria were measured to develop the list. Patient outcomes like survival rates, patient experiences, expert opinions, and other care-related indicators like nurse staffing and patient volume all factored into a hospital’s final score.
St. Joseph’s received a cumulative three out of five stars for patient experience and was recognized as “high performing” in eight procedures and conditions: abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, aortic valve surgery, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), colon cancer surgery, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, hip replacement and knee replacement.
It’s the fifth consecutive time that St. Joseph’s has been ranked atop its field in Central New York. Luke says coming in at No. 1 is a little more pleasant this year since the hospital is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2019.
Despite remaining in first place in the region, St. Joseph’s fell in the rankings statewide. In last year’s U.S. News & World Report list, St. Joseph’s was No. 10 in New York. Luke says officials are still looking into the reason behind the nine-place drop but notes that the methodology changed this year.
U.S. News & World Report says it revised its formula to incorporate more patient satisfaction measures, to account for differences in-patient populations, and to address feedback from healthcare professionals. For these reasons, it recommends not comparing a hospital’s performance in the 2019 rankings to previous years.
Still, one potential explanation for St. Joseph’s fall to No. 19 could be related to how the hospital’s staff communicates with patients. Some of its lowest scores were for satisfaction with how nurses and doctors communicated, specifically with how well patients were informed about how to take medication and any potential side effects related to it.
“I think that goes to how we’re communicating information because we’re definitely communicating it, but obviously we may not be communicating it in a way that’s easy to understand by the patient or his or her family,” Luke said. “When you’re in the hospital not feeling particularly good, a conversation can occur and you’re just not in the state of mind to really understand it. So, we have to be more sensitive to that and figure out a way to more concisely and clearly communicate those kinds of things to our patients.”
Elsewhere in Central New York, Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira received three out of five stars for patient experience and was recognized as “high performing” for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure and knee replacement.
Crouse Hospital received two out of five stars for patient experience and was recognized as “high performing” for colon cancer surgery, heart failure and hip replacement.
Like Crouse, St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica received two out of five stars for patient experience and was recognized as “high performing” for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, hip replacement and knee replacement.
Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, Oswego Health in Oswego, Auburn Community Hospital in Auburn, and Oneida Healthcare in Oneida were not ranked. Upstate received 3 out of 5 stars for patient experience and was recognized as “High Performing” for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and heart failure. Oswego also got 3 out of 5 starts for patient experience, but was not recognized as “High Performing” for any procedures or conditions. Auburn got 1 out of 5 starts for patient experience and was recognized as “High Performing” for heart failure. And Oneida got 4 out of 5 stars for patient experience, but was not recognized as “High Performing” for any procedures or conditions.U.S. News & World Report says it releases the annual rankings to help patients find sources of especially skilled inpatient care.