CEO of Baptist Health: High-quality hospitals key to creating healthier communities

Stephen C. Hanson is CEO of Louisville-based Baptist Health.
Stephen C. Hanson is CEO of Louisville-based Baptist Health.

A strong hospital provides important benefits to the community it serves: providing jobs, generating substantial economic activity, working to keep area residents healthy and improving the overall quality of life.

When that hospital is best in its class, the impact is even greater, as it attracts patients and their families seeking the highest level of medical care.

That's why the recent news from U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals recognizing the excellence of Baptist Health is about more than mere bragging rights.

In its 25th annual review of the nation's hospitals, the magazine ranked Baptist Health Lexington No. 1 and Baptist Health Louisville No. 2 in Kentucky. Baptist Health Lexington catapulted from No. 4 in last year's ranking to claim the top spot. Baptist Health Louisville again tied for No. 2 — this time with last year's top-rated hospital, St. Elizabeth Edgewood.

Baptist Health Lexington was also recognized as the Best Hospital in the Bluegrass Region, while Baptist Health Louisville was ranked No. 1 in Metro Louisville for the third consecutive year.

Baptist Health Lexington ranked in 10 medical specialties: diabetes and endocrinology; ear, nose and throat; gastroenterology and GI surgery; geriatrics; gynecology; kidney disorders; neurology and neurosurgery; orthopedics; pulmonary; and urology.

Baptist Health Louisville ranked in nine medical specialties: diabetes and endocrinology; ear, nose and throat; gastroenterology and GI surgery; geriatrics; gynecology; kidney disorders; orthopedics; pulmonary; and urology.

This national honor is a result of physicians and staff working closely together to provide high-quality, treat-you-like-family care. It demonstrates our expertise in treating the most challenging patients, which is the yardstick for the analysis. The rankings are available at http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals.

Baptist Health's reputation for excellence goes well beyond Louisville and Lexington, with additional hospitals in Paducah, Madisonville, La Grange, Richmond and Corbin, plus hospitals we manage in Elizabethtown and Russell Springs. Each is a beacon of quality in its community.

Baptist Health is the largest not-for-profit health-care system in Kentucky, based on more than 85,000 discharges annually at all the hospitals we own or manage. Our family includes nearly 17,000 employees, providing a payroll of approximately $600 million on an annual budget of more than $2 billion. We also offer the services of another 2,000 doctors on our medical staffs. We're also grateful for support from more than 1,000 volunteers and board members.

Urgent care and express care centers, home health care and many other services allow us to reach hundreds of thousands of people in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Tennessee.

We have a number of initiatives under way to improve access and quality even more. As we look for new ways to lower health-care costs and improve outcomes, we are shifting our emphasis away from primarily caring for the sick toward keeping people well in the first place.

In addition, improved communication with patients has produced significant increases in our patient-experience scores — in some cases by almost 20 percent.

Nursing staff are working to alleviate the stress patients feel. By increasing the time spent at the bedside, our patients feel safer and more secure, and we can anticipate their needs through better communications.

This, in turn, leads to a safer, more satisfying experience for our patients.

We are proud that the Baptist Health tradition of excellent patient care has been recognized nationally, and fully confident that more honors will follow as we all journey toward our second century of quality care in our communities.

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