By Kim Walter
Winchester Medical Center has been recognized as one of the top five hospitals in Virginia.
U.S. News & World Report released its Best Hospital Rankings for 2013-2014 this week. The medical center's ranking was fifth best, up from last year's ranking of sixth.
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center tied for first, followed by Inova Fairfax Hospital and then the University of Virginia Medical Center.
The report looks at hospital performance in 16 specialties, and forms scores based on data from multiple sources pertaining to three dimensions of healthcare: structure, process and outcomes.
Winchester Medical Center had nine specialties rated as "high performing," including diabetes and endocrinology; ear, nose and throat; neurology and neurosurgery; and geriatrics.
Nicolas Restrepo, vice president of medical affairs at the hospital, said only eight specialties were ranked as "high performing." He said he believes the addition of cardiology and heart surgery was what brought the hospital into the number five spot on the list.
Cardiology and heart surgery staff have focused on improvement, particularly in the past year, Restrepo said, which probably helped with performance outcomes.
"There was a lot of time, energy and resources invested in looking at the entire team and entire care of each patient," he said.
Additionally, the department earned a three-star rating -- the highest possible -- for heart surgery from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Restrepo said the hospitcal has maintained that rating for 18 straight months.
Only 12 of the 16 rated specialties are based on data and outcomes, Restrepo said. Information is achieved through documentation of care and medical records, which are individually reviewed and audited for accuracy.
Restrepo said he believes that it won't be long before the hospital gets a "high performing" rating in all 12 of the specialties.
"In that respect, it really comes down to how you document a patient's care," he said.
Restrepo said patients should be happy to know that they don't have to travel outside their community to receive some of the best care in the region and state. As a whole, he said he believes the report highlights areas where all members of the care team collaborate to provide exceptional care.
"Some of the specialties, like diabetes, impact patients with multiple health issues," he said. "So the report is really recognizing how important each role on a team is, and what a great job each individual is doing.
The 2013-2014 Best Hospitals rankings are drawn from 4,806 medical facilities. According to the report, only about 15 percent of hospitals are recognized for their high performance as among their region's best.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org