CEO praises physicians and clinical and support staff

By William K. Alcorn


The Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence given ValleyCare Northside Medical Center is emblematic of the emphasis placed on patient care and satisfaction, says the hospital’s new chief executive officer.

The award places Northside among the top 5 percent of 4,500 hospitals nationwide for its clinical performance as measured by Healthgrades Hospital Quality Report, said Kirk Ray, chief executive officer of ValleyCare System of Ohio and Northside.

Major hospitals in the ValleyCare System are Northside, Trumbull Memorial Hospital in Warren and Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital in Howland.

The award signifies that for the period of 2009 through 2011, Northside was among 262 hospitals that showed superior performance in caring for patients in the Medicare population as measured by clinical outcomes across at least 19 of 27 of the most-common conditions and procedures, Ray said.

“It means we are taking care of patients every day, and it is a tribute to the physicians, clinical staff and everybody on the staff,” he said.

One of Northside’s strengths is its residency program overseen by attending physicians such as Dr. James Shina, who was a resident doctor at Northside and now is an internist there.

“Receiving the Distinguished Hospital Award, along with 28 other HealthGrades awards, means we’re achieving what we’ve set out to do. This honor recognizes the great work being done by our physicians, nurses and staff,” said Ray, who took over the reins of ValleyCare about four months ago.

Ray said that in the two years since Forum Health was purchased out of bankruptcy by Community Health Systems, the Tennessee-based parent of ValleyCare, many strides have been made to improve the facility.

He said Northside has added 60 physicians who are hospital employees and strengthened relationships with independent practitioners, particularly primary-care physicians.

Most recently, he said about 85 percent of its 184 patient beds have been converted to private rooms over the past 18 months, which gives patients more privacy and better access to family.

Another investment in better patient care, a Mindray telemetry monitoring system, is due to come online in three or four weeks. The system will enable people dedicated to the job to monitor every patient all the time, he said.

Also, over the past two years, Northside has become a Level III Trauma Center and certified chest-pain center while maintaining its accreditation as a primary stroke center.

Ray would not be specific, but he intimated that ValleyCare plans to expand into other areas in the market.

“Our goal is to be the most accessible health-care organization in Northeast Ohio by establishing key access points throughout the area,” he said.

Ray, who came here from the Fort Wayne, Ind., area, said he is “very pleasantly surprised” at how accommodating the community and employees have been.

“It is a community with good, conservative family values,” he said.

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