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A hospital's ills

According to patients, Washington County facility not so good, Waynesboro's wonderful

According to patients, Washington County facility not so good, Waynesboro's wonderful

April 13, 2008|By ARNOLD S. PLATOU

It could be dirty rooms, noisiness, inattention to pain after surgery or, simply, the old buildings.

Whatever it is, a surprisingly large number of patients don't have a very high opinion of Washington County Hospital.

This, and a comparatively glowing report about Waynesboro (Pa.) Hospital, are the take-home results of a survey just released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Washington County Hospital's low "scores are probably not what we had hoped that they would be," said Mary Towe, vice president and chief nursing officer.

"But overall, we seemed to do fairly well compared with hospitals in the region. ... We know that some of the biggest criticisms have to do with inefficiencies in our operation because of the inefficiency of the building" and the lack of privacy in double-occupancy rooms -- both of which should be cured with the opening of its new hospital by 2011, Towe said.

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The results, which gave the Hagerstown hospital the worst overall rating and Waynesboro's the best among four area hospitals, are based on surveys each did between October 2006 and June 2007. Each hospital was to give the survey to at least 300 patients, all chosen at random.

The results are particularly important because "medical outcomes are better" when patients like where they are being treated, said Dr. Thomas Anderson, vice president of medical affairs at Chambersburg (Pa.) Hospital and Waynesboro.

"Patients listen better. They're more likely to do what you tell them to," Anderson said.

Across the nation, more than 2,500 hospitals took part in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. It is the first uniform national survey of patients.

The report can be seen online at a federal Web site, www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

Led by the American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals and Association of American Medical Colleges, the information "is intended to make it easier for the consumer to make informed healthcare decisions, and to support efforts to improve quality in U.S. hospitals," according to the Web site.

Nationwide, on average, 67 percent of patients said they would "definitely" recommend the hospital where they had been treated to friends and relatives.

And an average of 63 percent were well-satisfied with the hospital where they stayed, giving it a 9 or a 10, either of which qualified for the survey's "highest rating" on a scale of 0 to 10.

In Hagerstown, only 48 percent of the patients surveyed gave Washington County Hospital the highest rating. Fourteen percent gave it the "lowest" rating -- scores of 6 or less.

By contrast, Waynesboro Hospital won the highest rating from 69 percent and the lowest from 4 percent. Frederick (Md.) Memorial Hospital got the highest from 56 percent and the lowest from 12 percent. Chambersburg (Pa.) Hospital drew the highest from 53 percent and the lowest from 12 percent.

Survey results were not available for City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va., Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va., and Morgan County War Memorial Hospital in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

On another question, 54 percent of Washington County Hospital's patients said they "definitely" would recommend it to their friends and family, 36 percent said they would "probably" recommend it and 10 percent said they "probably would not" or "definitely would not."

The latter showed there was more dissatisfaction at Washington County than at any of three other area hospitals -- Waynesboro (2 percent), Chambersburg (5 percent) and Frederick (6 percent).

More survey results

On most other questions, too, Waynesboro far outshone the other hospitals.

Here's a sampling, giving the percents of patients who said:

  • Their nurses "always" communicated well with them -- Washington County, 70; Waynesboro, 79; Chambersburg, 73; and Frederick, 71.

  • Their doctors "always" communicated well with them -- Washington County, 73; Waynesboro, 80; Chambersburg, 75; and Frederick, 71.

  • They "always" received help as soon as they wanted -- Washington County, 53; Waynesboro, 67; Chambersburg, 62; and Frederick, 54.

  • Their pain was "always" well-controlled -- Washington County, 62; Waynesboro, 68; Chambersburg, 65; and Frederick, 69.

  • Staff "always" explained about medicines before giving it to them -- Washington County, 55; Waynesboro, 62; Chambersburg, 55; and Frederick, 54.

  • Their room and bathroom were "always" clean -- Washington County, 64; Waynesboro, 79; Chambersburg, 68; and Frederick, 70.

  • The area around their room was "always" quiet at night -- Washington County, 40; Waynesboro, 50; Chambersburg, 39; and Frederick, 52.

  • They were given information about what to do during their recovery at home -- Washington County, 77; Waynesboro, 80; Chambersburg, 77; and Frederick, 74.

    Washington County's issues

    To Towe, the vice president and chief nursing officer at Washington County Hospital, survey results reflecting poorly on the hospital can be blamed mostly on its old buildings.

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