Fifth award for surgery from HealthGrades

SANTA ROSA – For the fifth consecutive year, the Sutter Medical Heart and Vascular Center in Santa Rosa has been ranked in the top 10 percent of hospitals in the nation for cardiac surgery, according to HealthGrades, a leading independent health care rating organization.

[caption id="attachment_18677" align="alignright" width="292" caption="Sutter Medical Center’s Director of Cardiac Surgical Services, Dr. Keith Korver, left, with team members Misi Nagle, Heidi Castaneda and Mary Carroll-Ambrose, in the Heart and Vascular Center."][/caption]

Sutter’s cardiac surgery program is also ranked among the top five hospitals in California. It is the only hospital in Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Lake, Mendocino and Solano counties to receive this distinction.

As part of HealthGrades Cardiac Surgery Excellence Awards for 2010, Sutter retained its five-star ratings for valve replacement surgery and for the treatment of heart failure for five years and three years in a row, respectively.

HealthGrades, a public company based in Golden, Colo., ranks hospitals and makes awards for multiple procedures and diagnoses. Overall, the North Bay ranks at or near the top on the group's "health outcomes" measure of mortality and quality of life. In California, Marin County was ranked No. 1; Sonoma, No. 9; and Napa, No. 13 of 56.

Completed in 2001, Sutter’s heart center is led by a team of experienced physicians including Dr. Keith Korver, director of cardiac surgery services; Dr. Patrick Coleman, director of cardiac catheterization services; and Dr. Gregory Hopkins, director of cardiology.

These doctors are supported by cardiac nurses and technicians who are available 24 hours a day.

[caption id="attachment_18678" align="alignleft" width="129" caption="Mike Purvis"][/caption]

“This is a remarkable achievement. Over the years we have worked as a team to implement best practices and invest in new technologies and equipment to achieve outstanding outcomes for our patients while providing a continuous level of excellence,” said Mike Purvis, chief administrative officer for Sutter Medical Center.

“It’s all about the passion and commitment of our clinical staff and leaders as they focus on the details throughout the process from prevention to diagnosis, as well as intervention and rehabilitation.”

According to Dr. Korver, “The new techniques we use include minimally invasive surgery, requiring only small incisions, as well as ‘beating heart’ surgery, a procedure that enables surgery without the use of a heart-lung machine.”

These procedures have been shown to lead to faster recovery, reduce hospital stays and can result in fewer post-surgical complications.

“Our heart center is a small, friendly environment where people like to work and take their jobs seriously. It boils down to personal accountability and responsibility. There are 137 hospitals in California that do heart surgery, so for us to be recognized as having a culture of quality and teamwork five years running is  significant,” Dr. Korver said.

Sutter’s catheterization labs provide highly advanced diagnostic and treatment procedures, such as coronary angiography, that make vascular intervention possible without open heart surgery in many cases.

The electrophysiology lab employs the most current technology available in Sonoma County for diagnosing and treating problems that cause the heart to beat too slow, too fast or irregularly, often allowing patients to return to active lifestyles much sooner than was possible previously.

HealthGrades’ hospital ratings and awards reflect the track record of patient outcomes at hospitals in the form of mortality and complication rates based on the data hospitals submit to the federal government. No hospital can opt in or out of being rated, and no hospital pays to be rated.

The recent study of patient outcomes involved data gleaned from 5,000 nonfederal hospitals across the country that included 40 million Medicare hospitalization records from 2006 to 2008.

This year’s survey found that across all 17 procedures and diagnoses in which patient mortality was studied, there was an approximate 72 percent lower chance of dying in a five-star rated hospital compared with a one-star rated hospital, and a 52 percent lower incidence of mortality in a five-star hospital compared with the national average.

If all hospitals performed at the five-star level across all 17 procedures and diagnoses studied in this survey, 224,537 Medicare lives could potentially have been saved during the study period 2006-2008.

Overall, HealthGrades issues star ratings that reflect the mortality and complication rates for a total of 28 procedures and treatments.

Hospitals receiving a five-star rating have mortality or complication rates which are below the national average to a statistically significant degree.

A three-star rating means a hospital is performing as expected. A one-star rating indicates that a hospital’s mortality or complication rates in that procedure or treatment are statistically higher than average.

For more information about this study, visit www.healthgrades.com. To learn more about Sutter Medical Center’s Heart and Vascular Center, visit www.suttersantarosa.org.