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Valley Baptist-Harlingen Ranked #1 in Nation for Heart Failure Management; "Six Sigma" Leads to Improvements.

Valley Baptist Leads U.S. in Federal Government's Pay-for-Performance Program; Proper Treatment Can Help Heart Failure Patients Survive, Return to Everyday Activities

HARLINGEN, Texas -- Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen has been ranked number one in the entire United States in the treatment of heart failure, according to a pay-for-performance project conducted by the federal government.

In addition to the top ranking for heart failure treatment, Valley Baptist placed in the top 10 percent in the nation in treating heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) patients. The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Premier, Inc. conduct the demonstration program to reward quality and performance among the nation's hospitals.

Valley Baptist was able to improve patient care for heart failure and heat attack patients through a process improvement program called Six Sigma. The Six Sigma method was pioneered in high-tech companies such as General Electric, with Valley Baptist being one of the first organizations in the nation to apply the program to health care. Under the leadership of its President and CEO James Springfield, Valley Baptist has made Six Sigma quality one of its top corporate initiatives in order to maximize performance and patient satisfaction throughout the health system.

A total of 115 top-performing hospitals in the country will receive reward bonuses for their performance. Valley Baptist in Harlingen will receive $140,951 because of its performance in treating heart failure management and heart attack patients.

"Providing outstanding patient care has always been our primary mission," said Jim Wesson, Chief Executive Officer for Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen. "We were pleased to participate in this demonstration and are proud that our performance was rated the best in heart failure management. Over time, healthcare costs can be controlled by meeting quality standards and eliminating unnecessary procedures."

Mr. Wesson added that the government's rankings are "proof that Valley residents have access to the highest quality of healthcare right here at home. The award is a tribute to the many excellent physicians and staff working at Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen. We are honored to receive such recognition."

Valley Baptist's performance in heart failure management has previously been noted in national publications such as Modern Healthcare and U.S. News & World Report. The Heart Failure Management Program at VBMC-Harlingen aims to prevent complications in patients at risk for heart failure. The program includes medication management, as well as education on diet and other aspects of heart care.

Heart failure is a progressive condition in which the heart's muscle becomes weakened because of a heart attack or high blood pressure. The condition causes the heart to lose its ability to pump enough blood to supply the body's needs. Heart failure affects nearly 5 million Americans, killing 250,000 people every year. But with earlier diagnosis and newer treatments, people with heart failure are able to continue enjoying their everyday activities and have a more normal life expectancy.

The rankings of hospitals are based on the latest set of core measures that have been nationally accepted as indicators of quality. These "best practice standards" for patients with heart failure include performing assessments of the function of the left ventricle of the heart; providing detailed discharge instructions to each patient; and providing advice and counseling on the importance of smoking cessation prior to the patient's discharge.

Two Six Sigma initiatives at VBMC-Harlingen -- which focused on evidenced-based medical management of heart failure and acute myocardial infarction patients - have resulted in lower death rates, lower readmission rates and shorter lengths of stay in the hospital. In addition, those patients who do return are doing so at an earlier stage in the cardiac event, when treatment is more effective.

For more information on quality improvements at Valley Baptist, go to www.ValleyBaptist.net and click on the button entitled "View Our Quality Results."

About Valley Baptist Health System

Valley Baptist Health System is a regional integrated delivery system that includes an insurance company, two acute care inpatient facilities, a skilled nursing facility, a residential living center, a durable medical equipment company, home health, hospice and infusion care, an imaging center, ambulatory surgery centers, and a 350-member physician-hospital organization.

Valley Baptist is one of the first health care organizations in the country to use the Six Sigma quality improvement program to maximize performance and customer satisfaction. Valley Baptist extends many of its services beyond its facilities and into local communities, offering services and expertise to area businesses and other organizations through its Value Partners and other programs, including free screenings for the community, support groups and numerous educational opportunities. For more information, visit www.ValleyBaptist.net.

About Premier, Inc.

Recipient of the 2006 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

Serving 1,700 hospitals and 42,000 other healthcare sites, Premier Inc. is the largest healthcare alliance in the United States dedicated to improving patient outcomes while safely reducing the cost of care. Owned by not-for-profit hospitals, Premier operates the nation's largest healthcare purchasing network, the most comprehensive repository of hospital clinical and financial information and one of the largest policy-holder owned, hospital professional liability risk-retention groups in healthcare. Headquartered in San Diego, Premier has offices in Charlotte, N.C. and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.premierinc.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jan 26, 2007
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