St. Vincent’s earns awards in patient safety, ethical billing

Published 11:22 am Friday, November 18, 2022

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton recently won two awards presented by The Leapfrog Group for hospital safety and ethical billing practices. The Leapfrog Group is an independent national watchdog organization with a 10-year history of assigning letter grades to general hospitals throughout the United States, based on a hospital’s ability to prevent medical errors and harm to patients. The grades are based on more than 30 national performance measures, and are updated each fall and spring, according to a press release from Leapfrog.

“There are a lot of detailed metrics like that across many aspects of care,” Shanon Hamilton, Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton administrator, said. “We do a very good job at achieving the minimum standard, and in most cases, we are near the top nationally in some of these standards.”

For example, bar code scanning of medications that ensures the patient is getting the correct medication at the right time is one of the 30 metrics measured.

St. Vincent’s Chilton earned an A grade in hospital safety compared to every other hospital in the state of Alabama, and the nation.

Hamilton said that the administration can implement the framework for ethical practices, but it is the associates at St. Vincent’s Chilton that made receiving the high grade possible.

“It really is the front-line associates that make the difference in the care that is provided,” Hamilton said. “They are the ones that really do that work and keep our patients safe.”

While the awards and recognition are more than welcomed by St. Vincent’s Chilton, Hamilton said that is not the motivating factor for him or the associates.

“The patients are … because they choose us for their care we want to make sure they are safe, and we provide a safe environment to receive the services they seek,” Hamilton said. “Our associates choose to come here to work, and they could work anywhere, but they chose to be a part of our team. That is special.”

The ethical billing award that St. Vincent’s Chilton won was awarded in conjunction with “Money Magazine.” The grades are on a letter grade scale as well, and it is based on how accurately patients who come to St. Vincent’s Chilton are billed after their services are complete.

In the state of Alabama, just three hospitals received an A or B grade, and St. Vincent’s Chilton was the only one who received an A grade. Out of 101 hospitals in the state graded, St. Vincent’s Chilton was the highest rated.

“Not only are we concerned about the patient care we provide, but we also want to make sure we bill correctly and appropriately for the services we do render,” Hamilton said. “The patients that choose us, not only are we going to provide a safe environment and the best patient care that they can have, but we are also going to appropriately bill them. They are going to receive the same level of treatment and expectation on the backend of their care after they have received their services.”

Hamilton said that St. Vincent’s Chilton has placed an emphasis on patient care and experience since the day their doors opened in October 2016.

“We want to make sure that no matter what aspect of interaction we have with that patient, that we do it at the highest level we could possibly provide,” Hamilton said.

Alabama rose from 42nd in the spring to 39th in the fall in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade State Rankings.