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Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:30 pm

The author of a national hospital-rating study says Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center “is one of the best hospitals I’ve seen.”

The medical center was named today as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals, joining Mayo Clinic as the only Arizona hospitals on the list compiled by HealthGrades, a leading health-care ratings organization.

HealthGrades rates hospitals with a one-, three-, or five-star rating in 26 different procedures and treatments by looking at mortality and complication numbers.

Del Webb’s star ratings are “extraordinarily high,” said Dr. Rick May, HealthGrades vice president of clinical quality services and co-author of the report.

“Looking at the average star rating, I’d have to say Del Webb is one of the best hospitals I’ve seen,” May said. “For the people of Sun City West, you are extremely fortunate to have a hospital like Del Webb in your neighborhood.”

Beatrice Faber, a Sun City West winter visitor from New York, agreed, saying the kind staff is one of the best things about Del Webb.

“I think it’s the ultimate of community hospitals,” Faber said. “Although, unfortunately, I’ve been here as a guest too many times.”

During Faber’s recent visit to the hospital Tuesday, she took a pulmonary function test in the lab of the cardiopulmonary department, one of Del Webb’s five-star departments.

“This is the best place to work,” said Jeff Spacht, department director. “A lot of people treat this as a career. It’s not just a job.”

That passion leads to greater patient care, Spacht said, because the staff is willing to get involved.

“What an honor,” Del Webb’s CEO John Harrington Jr. said of the HealthGrades distinction. “I’m thrilled. It’s really an affirmation that we’re doing the right things for our patients.”

The HealthGrades study analyzes the country’s 5,000 hospitals using the 40 million patient records in the Medicare dataset, May said. The company compiles a list of the hospitals performing in the top 5 percent based on the things that matter to patients most: mortality and complication rates.

Called the Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence, Del Webb has been on the list for seven of the 10 years the study has been conducted.

“You have to not only be good, you have to be great, and not only that, you have to be consistently great,” May said.

On average, patients treated at one of these top 50 hospitals, such as Del Webb, had a nearly 30 percent lower risk of death and 3 percent lower rate of complications. The HealthGrades study found that if all U.S. hospitals had performed at this level, more than 500,000 Medicare deaths could have been prevented between 1999 and 2009.

Not making the top 50 but on the 2011 Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence list are including Banner Boswell Medical Center and Banner Thunderbird Medical Center.

Del Webb CEO Harrington said he thinks the community sense of ownership of the hospital is a big part of its success along with a dedication to patient care and following those best practices.

“I think it indicates a really strong working relationship between the hospital and our doctors,” Harrington said of the award. “More than any of the other hospitals I’ve worked in the Phoenix area, we’re a community hospital.”

Registered nurse Deborah Liable, the stroke coordinator at the hospital, oversees another high-performing procedure, but commends her team for the work that they do.

“I think we keep in mind that this could be our family member,” Liable said of their hard work that led to another one of Del Webb’s five-star ratings.

“I love this community. I enjoy the people that I work with,” Liable said.

To read more about Del Webb’s and other hospital’s ratings, visit www.healthgrades.com.

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