Erin Taylor, a registered nurse, logs in vitals along with Amanda George, a certified nurse assistant, at the Yampa Valley Medical Center’s intensive care unit Monday afternoon. Consumer Reports has ranked the hospital the safest in the state, and among the best in the nation.

Photo by John F. Russell

Erin Taylor, a registered nurse, logs in vitals along with Amanda George, a certified nurse assistant, at the Yampa Valley Medical Center’s intensive care unit Monday afternoon. Consumer Reports has ranked the hospital the safest in the state, and among the best in the nation.

Consumer Reports ranks Steamboat’s hospital safest in Colorado

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Registered Radiological Technologists Molly Nykamp, right, and Kathy Liberman, left, look over a digital X-ray in the Yampa Valley Medical Center’s Diagnostic Imaging Department.

— Larry Bookman surprised his colleagues at Yampa Valley Medical Center on Monday. At a morning staff meeting, the hospital’s chief medical officer eagerly showed off a Consumer Reports article that ranks YVMC as the safest hospital in Colorado.

“We’re still kind of in a state of shock,” said Judy Zuccone, the hospital’s chief quality and compliance officer. “It’s not often we get to see our hometown hospital at the top of a list of very big players in the health care field. It’s something we can be very, very proud of.”

For the first time, Consumer Reports ranked the safety of hospitals across the nation based on their rate of infections, re-admissions, complications and mortality. The rankings also considered how well a hospital’s staff explains to its patients the guidelines for taking new medication, and how well they prevent patients from undergoing unnecessary CT scans.

YVMC scored above the national average in its ability to prevent infections and unnecessary scans that use radiation.

Overall, the hospital ranked first in Colorado, above second-place North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley and third-place Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango. YVMC’s score of 67 out of a possible 100 put it one point shy of matching the grade of Memorial Hospital of Union County in Marysville, Ohio, which the magazine ranked the 10th safest hospital in the nation.

“We’re pretty excited about the fact we’ve being recognized at this level,” YVMC CEO Frank May said. “We have high expectations for ourselves. It’s nice to have them confirmed.”

May attributed the high ranking to the dedication of the hospital’s staff, which currently numbers 540.

Zuccone, who has worked at the hospital for 12 years, said a healthy level of scrutiny ensures safety and likely boosted the ranking.

“We have both hospital staff and medical staff working each day to prevent every type of complication,” she said, adding that an infection prevention specialist talks to patients about how they can prevent infections at home. “This staff is amazing in their diligence and their ability.”

YVMC remains a busy health care hub in Northwest Colorado. In its 2011 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, the hospital saw 7,572 emergency visits and 1,683 inpatient admissions. It also performed 107,268 lab tests, according to the hospital’s 2012 annual report.

The majority of data used to grade the hospital came from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

According to Consumer Reports, the rankings included 38 hospitals in Colorado and 1,159 nationwide, but it did not include Veterans Affairs and children’s hospitals, specialty hospitals and other facilities that did not have enough data to grade.

The magazine has been mailed to subscribers and will hit newsstands this week.

Zuccone said “she has never been prouder of this hospital and the work we do.” She added that she hopes YVMC’s scores can grow higher.

“There’s always room to improve,” she said. “This is an opportunity to keep moving forward and keep (the hospital) safer than it already is.”

Consumer Reports top 10 safest hospitals in Colorado:

  1. Yampa Valley Medical Center, Steamboat Springs
  2. North Colorado Medical Center, Greeley
  3. Mercy Regional Medical Center, Durango
  4. Poudre Valley Hospital, Fort Collins
  5. Medical Center of the Rockies, Loveland
  6. Colorado Plains Medical Center, Fort Morgan
  7. Vail Valley Medical Center, Vail
  8. Exempla Lutheran Medical Center, Wheat Ridge
  9. Platte Valley Medical Center, Brighton
  10. McKee Medical Center, Loveland

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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