We Care About Quality
By Kurt A. Barwis, FACHE, President & CEO
 
“What kind of care can we expect from a for-profit hospital? Won’t they skimp on quality just to make a buck for their shareholders?”
 
I hope I got your attention by acknowledging that we have heard this question numerous times as we work toward preparing Bristol Hospital for the future, either as part of another organization, or on our own in the evolving health care environment.
 
Guess what? We also asked this question about quality of care when we did our due diligence discussions and visits, first with Vanguard, and later with Tenet Health. 
 
Quality is important to us at Bristol Hospital. In fact, quality care is central to our mission. We were pleased to learn that Tenet Health shared our high standards.
 
The people we care for at Bristol Hospital are members of our community. You are friends and neighbors, family, respected and valued partners. Our vision is to be recognized as the best community hospital health care provider in Connecticut.
 
So we would not align Bristol Hospital with any organization for any reason other than to provide the best health care possible. 
 
And you know what? Bristol Hospital already has a strong record of providing quality care. Recent reports from the Connecticut Department of Health verify that Bristol Hospital receives high marks for ability to prevent infections for central lines and urinary catheters. Bristol Hospital met the state standard of having no more than one infection for these procedures.
 
We heard during recent community conversations that Bristol Hospital has come a long way in the past several years to improve quality and patient care. Members of the community have noticed and told us they can tell the difference.
 
How did that happen?
 
It started from the top. Our Board of Directors felt so strongly about patient safety that they committed the hospital to achieving Zero Preventable Harm. Our entire hospital staff became engaged on a “high reliability” effort.
 
Health care is complex, involving a multitude of hand offs and coordination of care for patients who may have multiple health complications. Using national best practices, we created additional structures, extra steps, and enhanced training in techniques to validate and verify every patient care initiative.
 
When our Emergency Department was not meeting the expectations of the community, we took strong action, hired MEP Health, a new emergency services provider, and made needed renovations. As a result, the Emergency Department had the highest patient satisfaction of any hospital in Connecticut.
 
Let me address again the issue of for-profit versus not-for-profit medicine and patient care. MEP, the physician group that manages the Bristol Hospital Emergency Center is a “for-profit” company
 
These are times that are requiring hospitals to adapt to lower reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, our commercial insurance payers, and we increasingly have to employ the best business-managed approach to caring for patients efficiently and effectively.
 
That means we are all about delivering the highest quality of care to patients “the first time.” In addition to quality being our mission, consider this fact. Two thirds of patients at Bristol Hospital are covered by Medicare or Medicaid which means first, that we are paid about 78 cents on the dollar for care. 
 
Second, consider this, payments to hospitals under Medicare are verified by the federal Center for Medicare Services, CMS. They don’t evaluate whether a hospital is for profit or not for profit. CMS is looking only at outcomes, meaning that we are paid based on the quality of care we provide the first time.
 
And isn’t that our mission anyway? To provide quality care to the people of Bristol.