Peconic Bay celebrates top ranking in Consumer Reports study

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Andy Mitchell with Joan Hoil, the hospital's assistant vice president for quality management, who is recuperating from hip surgery there.

When you’re here, you’re family.

That’s not just Olive Garden’s marketing slogan. It’s the attitude of the doctors, nurses and other staffers at Peconic Bay Medical Center.

That attitude was on display Friday at the Riverhead hospital, where administrators and board members held a press event recognizing the staff for its remarkable showing in a Consumer Reports study that ranked Peconic Bay the No. 2 hospital in the NY metropolitan area for patient safety.

“If we’re treating patients as if they’re our mothers, sisters, or grandfathers, we’re going to deliver the best care,” said Kerry Lechleider, a registered nurse and one of several speakers at Friday’s event in the hospital lobby. “We educate patients all the time, and we make them feel comfortable.

“We must establish that level of trust with the patients,” added president and CEO Andrew Mitchell. “That we’re doing everything we can to keep them safe.”

The recent study ranked Peconic Bay second-best among 81 hospitals across the New York metropolitan area. The study, which appears on the Consumer Reports website, rated the hospitals based on four safety criteria: hospital infections, re-admissions, discharge instructions and medical instructions.

Peconic Bay received a grade of “very good,” scoring its highest marks in its control of infections.

Only St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn scored better in the local study, although 17 area hospitals, including Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, were unrated due to insufficient available data. Only five hospitals in the study ranked at or above the national average.

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Peconic Bay scored 12 percent better than average, and much better than some of region’s most well-known hospitals such as New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Beth Israel Medical Center and Long Island Jewish Medical Center, according to the report released last week.

The Riverhead building’s new surgical center, called the Kanas Center for Advanced Surgery, with its cutting-edge technology and focus on infection control played a major role in the hospital’s positive ranking, Mr. Mitchell said. The hospital received its best grades in the hospital-acquired infections category.

Mr. Mitchell also mentioned repeatedly Friday that the achieving the highest standards of patient safety is a “journey” that never ends.

“We must never let up. We can’t sit back on our laurels,” he said. “We’re far from perfect.”

He also took a moment to recognize Joan Hoil, a registered nurse and vice president of quality management at Peconic Bay who’s currently a patient in the hospital, where’s she’s recuperating from hip surgery. Wearing a brace and with her legs elevated, Ms. Hoil, who received a round of applause, also took a moment to congratulate her colleagues. She said keeping patients safe “is about everyone working together; it truly is. And it’s a joy to do it.”

As far as improvements in some areas, such as communications about medications, where the local hospital had its poorest showing, Dr. Richard Kubiak, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said that aside from specific methods — such as recently distributed pins for staffers that read “Ask me about side effects” — providing the safest environment for patients is about creating a certain culture among the staff.

“It has to affect everything we do, every day, when it comes to patient safety,” he said, as dozens of hospital workers looked on. “We have to buy into that.”

The overall Consumer Reports study rated 1,045 hospitals nationwide on the four key measures. Individual hospital rankings were based on the percentage by which their scores on those measure differed from the national average.

When asked if he was surprised only five hospitals in the NY metropolitan area scored at or above average in the study, Mr. Mitchell said he was.

“There’s excuses in New York, such as our patients are harder to treat, or we have a sicker population,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s true.”

In response to the study’s findings, some of the hospitals that received lower grades, especially those in New York City, defended their work. They pointed to the challenges of language barriers that affect communications, as well as having to serve a large number of poor or homeless residents, which can affect readmission numbers.


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Consumer Reports patient safety rankings