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FirstHealth now posts quality indicator data on Web

FirstHealth of the Carolinas has joined the ranks of hundreds of the nation’s hospitals and health care systems by posting the quality indicators (measures) for its hospitals on its Web site (click here to view).

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which says that nearly all of the nation’s eligible hospitals have begun reporting data on the quality of care that they deliver, calls this move toward greater health care transparency “a vital first step in improving patient care.”

The data on the FirstHealth Web site is updated as new information becomes available and is “evidence-based” or proven effective in the care of the patient with the specific condition. Percentages and bar graphs show how Moore Regional and Richmond Memorial have performed in these benchmarks, and in comparison with the top 10 percent of the nation’s hospitals as well as the average for U.S. hospitals.

Montgomery Memorial Hospital also measures its health care quality data, and will post that information as it becomes available. Due to the hospital’s lower volumes, the Montgomery Memorial data will not be reported as often as the information for Moore Regional and Richmond Memorial, however.

The Web-posted information addresses every quality measure in the care of patients with heart failure, acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), pneumonia and surgical site infection, and includes information on such benchmarks as the percentage of patients who are given aspirin on arrival at the hospital and the percentage of patients assessed for and given a pneumonia vaccine during their hospital stay.

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Go to Web site for FHC’s annual report

For a summary of FirstHealth’s activities during 2006, click here to read the annual report for last year.

The document highlights the significant events and programs of 2006. The report also summarizes the various state and national recognitions that FirstHealth received during the year, including Advancement (Level 3) recognition in the North Carolina Awards for Excellence (NCAfE) program and the Magnet Nursing Designation for the nursing staff at Moore Regional Hospital and five off-campus nursing programs.

Because FirstHealth is headquartered in Pinehurst, the heart of Carolinas golf country, the annual report begins with a bow to the Sandhills golf tradition and draws that homage into a theme based on FirstGOLF, the organization’s strategic plan. The accomplishments of the year are then summarized in departments based on FirstHealth’s five performance indicators: Quality, Performance, Human Resources, Growth and Communication.

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RMH recognized for patient satisfaction

FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital received two national 2006 Compass Awards from Press Ganey and Associates for improved patient satisfaction.

Press Ganey Compass Awards are annually bestowed symbols of achievement in the health care satisfaction industry. Facilities are grouped into service categories based on bed size and the number of annual visits or procedures to determine those that have shown the greatest improvement in satisfaction scores.

Richmond Memorial’s two Compass Awards, for emergency and inpatient services, followed two years of consistently improving Press Ganey scores. They were presented during the 2006 Press Ganey Client Conference in New York last fall.

Richmond Memorial was one of only three facilities to receive the honor in both emergency and inpatient service categories. When compared with more than 900 hospitals across the country, the RMH scores ranked in the 99th percentile in outpatient services as well as emergency and inpatient services.

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MRH introduces new angiography equipment

FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital has opened a new suite exclusively for angiography procedures.

Both of the suite’s new angiography machines have state-of-the-art digitalimage intensifiers, which give physicians extremely clear, detailed views inside arteries and veins. “It’s like going from a television with a picture tube to a digital, flat-screen television,” says Lawrence Martin, M.D., an interventional radiologist at Moore Regional. “The difference in clarity is that great.” Angiograms are electronic images of blood vessels that can show the location and severity of blockages, which are usually caused by plaque build-up that can occur anywhere in the body. Angiography is used most often to diagnose obstructions in arteries in the legs and in the renal and carotid arteries, which supply blood to the brain.

By injecting a contrast material into the vessels they want to study, physicians can see where blood flow is normal and where there is a problem. They can then use minimally invasive techniques to open the vessel and restore blood flow.

“Because of the greater clarity, we can now do all this faster, more efficiently and with greater patient safety,” Dr. Martin says. “First, it allows us to give the patient less radiation. And, with the ability to manipulate data so quickly, we can decrease the procedure time. That’s important, because the longer a procedure lasts, the more likely there will be complications.”

Interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons perform angiography procedures at Moore Regional.

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MMH president named to HOSPAC Board


Kerry A. Hensley

Kerry A. Hensley, president of FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital, has been named District 5 representative to the board of HOSPAC, the North Carolina Hospital Association Political Action Committee.

HOSPAC helps to build relationships between hospital executives and their elected officials, and its board determines candidate support, sets fundraising goals and assists in generating support for HOSPAC among eligible hospital executives.

Hensley is a native of Montgomery County and a resident of Biscoe. Since receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she has devoted her entire career to the field of health care.

A staff nurse at Moore Regional Hospital, Montgomery Memorial Hospital and Rex Hospital earlier in her career, Hensley has served in a variety of managerial and administrative positions at Montgomery Memorial Hospital since September 1982. She was named the hospital’s administrator (now president) in 1992.

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RMH has CAD technology noted in British study

A single radiologist backed up by a computer-aided detection (CAD) system is more likely to pick up early-stage breast cancer than two radiologists independently reading the same mammography film, according to a recently reported British study. FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital is one of only a few community hospitals in the state to have such a CAD system for reading mammograms.

When a woman comes to Richmond Memorial for a screening mammogram, a radiologist reads the film to look for abnormalities and the film is fed into a CAD scanner. If the scanner detects something suspicious, it will mark the spot as a possible abnormality. Then the radiologist compares what he saw with what the CAD system has detected.

The British study, in which researchers evaluated more than 10,000 mammograms, found that the rate of cancer detection by radiologists using a CAD system was 15 percent higher than in cases where the mammography film was read by two radiologists without computer assistance. Radiologist Scott Hees, D.O., says the CAD system hasn’t changed the way Richmond Memorial’s radiologists read mammograms, but it has given them more confidence that they aren’t missing something important. It acts as another set of eyes—eyes that, in some cases, are sharper than human eyes.

“Our goal is to detect breast cancer at its very earliest stage so that we can improve the chance of successful treatment,” Dr. Hees says. “CAD helps us do that.”

The British study of the reliability of CAD-assisted mammography was conducted by researchers at Aberdeen University and Manchester University. Their findings were reported in the October issue of the journal Radiology. Richmond Memorial acquired the same type CAD system for its Women’s Imaging Center more than two years ago.

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Smoke-free program targets restaurants

FirstHealth Community Health Services has coordinated a four-county initiative called the Smoke-Free Sandhills Dining Campaign. The program is part of FirstHealth’s broader effort to stop and prevent tobacco use by teens and to protect young people from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

Sallie Beth Johnson, a health educator with FirstHealth Community Health Services, coordinates the teen tobacco-use prevention initiative. She says the Smoke-Free Sandhills Dining Campaign is part of that effort “because we are looking at anywhere in the four counties that kids frequent, including restaurants, and trying to make sure they are provided a smoke-free, healthy environment.”

The Sandhills Dining Campaign uses the “Go-Light” logo created by the Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch of the state Division of Public Health. The logo appears on window decals, certificates, table tents and lapel pins, which are provided free to participating restaurants. The restaurants also get publicity in newspaper ads promoting the smoke-free campaign, and they can use the Go-Light logo in their own ads and on their Web sites

The health departments in Moore, Montgomery, Richmond and Hoke counties are FirstHealth’s partners in the program, which is funded by a $300,000 grant from the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund.

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