GREENFIELD — Hancock Regional Hospital earned an A rating for the second time in a row from the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade system, which twice yearly rates more than 2,000 American hospitals.

Leapfrog Group, an independent Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit specializing in healthcare analysis, recently rated Hancock Regional among the safest Indiana hospitals its size. The grade arises from data concerning infections, problems with surgery, practices to prevent errors, safety problems and statistics regarding the doctors, nurses and hospital staff.

Leapfrog Group’s algorithm takes into account 30 quality measures — and the opinion of a panel of medical professionals — in the process of rating hospitals, according to the Leapfrog Group website. Hancock Regional, which has 76 beds, showed a higher overall rating than several area hospitals, including Henry County Hospital in New Castle, Major Hospital in Shelbyville and Community Hospital East in Indianapolis, which received B, C and C grades, respectively.

Hospital safety studies from Leapfrog Group are among the best-respected in the industry, Hancock Regional Hospital CEO Steve Long said. And the hospital’s most recent rank shows the local facility’s progress, he added; the hospital received a C grade this time last year, then rose to an A in the fall, a grade maintained with this year’s spring rating.

Data is pulled from a number of places, with some of the numbers dating back as far as three years; that means sometimes, it takes time for grades to catch up with positive changes hospitals have made, Long said.

Hospital leaders say they’re pleased to see safety practices they’ve been implementing for years finally starting to appear in public reports.

“It’s beginning to show all of this hard work that we’ve done,” he said.

Long said hospital officials are touting the continued high ratings from Leapfrog Group to Hancock Health employees this month at staff meetings.

Positive ratings from organizations like Leapfrog Group can encourage some prospective patients to choose the local hospital over other options in the area, Long said. Still, he takes ratings with a grain of salt. Data used in the surveys can be outdated; for example, the hospital scored below average in a category about practices to prevent errors, because when the data was collected in 2015, the hospital’s doctors could not order medications through a computer. Now, the hospital has an electronic system for prescriptions, which alerts doctors of any potential harm from the medication or its dose, Long said.

In the coming years, those positive changes will be reflected in reports like Leapfrog’s, he said.

Overall, Long said he believes the ratings from organizations like Leapfrog Group will continue to improve based on the safety procedures of hospital staff.

Part of the hospital’s success has come from acknowledging areas that need improvement, Long said.

For example, hospital officials started a pilot program earlier this year in response to patient feedback that emergency department wait times were too long. The Split Flow program categorizes patients based on the severity of their needs; the process moves those who have already been seen by a doctor to a secondary waiting area until their test results come back, freeing up beds in the hospital’s 18 exam rooms for patients with traumatic injuries or serious illnesses.

Decreased wait times were an immediate result, Long said, which can impact things like patient satisfaction surveys.

When Robert Tetreault ended up in the emergency department with a broken femur, he was impressed by how patient and gracious his doctors and nurses were, he said.

A Connecticut native, Tetreault said he was used to long wait times and doctors in a hurry, but the staff at the Greenfield hospital took the time to answer all his questions.

“For a small hospital, they’re fantastic,” he said.

As word spread on social media of the hospital’s accolade, patients chimed in about their experiences, applauding some of their favorite doctors and nurses by name.

Greenfield mom Gretchen Clemmer said how grateful she is for the doctors and nurses who worked on her 9-year-old daughter earlier this year. The little girl was severely dehydrated from a stomach illness, and Dr. Blake Grider performed an unusual procedure to hydrate her — stints in her shins, which Clemmer credits with saving her daughter’s life.

And after her daughter was transported to another facility, Dr. Grider called every day to check on her, Clemmer said.

“He was very dedicated to checking on her,” she said. “They all were amazing.”

Compare healthcare

Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenfield received the highest safety rating from Leapfrog Group among similarly sized and/or area hospitals.

Hancock Regional Hospital

Greenfield

Overall: A

Size: 76 Beds/188 registered nurses

Infections: Above average

Problems with surgery: Above average

Practices to prevent errors: Average

Safety problems: Below average

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff: Above average

 

Henry County Hospital

New Castle

Overall: B

Size: 90 beds/143 registered nurses

Infections: Average

Problems with surgery: Above average

Practices to prevent errors: Above average

Safety problems: Below average

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff: Above average

 

Major Hospital

Shelbyville

Overall: C

Size: 72 beds/215 registered nurses

Infections: Below average

Problems with surgery: Above average

Practices to prevent errors: Above average

Safety problems: Average

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff: Above average

 

Community Hospital East

Indianapolis

Overall: C

Size: 335 beds/568 registered nurses

Infections: Average

Problems with surgery: Below average

Practices to prevent errors: Average

Safety problems: Above average

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff: above average

 

Eskenazi Health

Indianapolis

Overall: D

Size: 253 beds/609 registered nurses

Infections: Below average

Problems with surgery: Average

Practices to prevent errors: Below average

Safety problems: Average

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff: Below average

Sources: Leapfrog Safety Grade, hospitalsafetygrade.org; Consumer Reports, consumerreports.org

Author photo
Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.