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FMC entrance

The entrance to the Flagstaff Medical Center.

As Northern Arizona Healthcare works to expand its facilities and offerings, Flagstaff Medical Center is collecting accolades.

This month FMC, which treated nearly 14,000 inpatients and 50,000 outpatients last year, was named the No. 2 Arizona hospital by U.S. News & World Report, tying with Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City and Banner University Medical University in Phoenix. FMC ranked fourth last year and fifth in 2017.

The Phoenix Mayo Clinic was ranked No. 1 in the state for the seventh consecutive year.

Earlier this year, FMC also received the highest rating, five stars, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), the same as Mayo Clinic.

“These quality honors that we get is a testament to our physicians – independent or employed – and our colleagues that work here every day and come to work dedicated to take amazing care of our patients. And that’s what our ‘secret sauce' is,” said NAH President and CEO Florence Spyrow.

Dr. John Mougin, NAH chief quality officer, suggested that the improvement came from a “tremendously larger number” of hospital employees participating in quality initiatives like daily reports to find areas in need of improvement throughout the campus.

Though the CMS ranking is attributed to every hospital in the nation that publicly reports enough data, U.S. News scores only hospitals with either a teaching program, an affiliated medical school, at least 200 beds, or at least 100 beds and certain advanced technologies.

Both organizations compile information on patient outcomes and experiences, level of care and available resources to determine their final ratings.

In the U.S. News ranking, FMC scored the highest ratings for gastroenterology, geriatrics, heart bypass surgery, and hip and knee replacement, among other specialties. However, it lost points for bariatric weight control services and a fertility clinic because the programs are small or nonexistent.

Customer satisfaction was also a weak point in the report, at only three stars out of five.

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Spyrow attributed the score to the organization’s recent emphasis on quality and safety, not necessarily patient experience, though it is more of a priority moving forward.

Trista MacVittie, an NAH communications director who specializes in healthcare innovation, is leading an effort to create a “patient journey program” to improve community outreach and patient experiences.

“We want to have a relationship with people, even when they’re not here, so that when they are, they are healthier and we have an easier time taking care of them,” MacVittie said.

Expansion

Patient experience has also been the focus of the hospital’s latest expansion project: the creation of a children’s health center in East Flagstaff.

The facility is scheduled to open in early spring 2020 and will be hosted in the former La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries building, which will be remodeled this fall.

Spyrow said the new facility will provide more parking and greater accessibility for young patients with disabilities, unlike FMC’s West Campus, where these services are currently offered.

FMC has also increased its primary care offerings with two new primary care physicians. The goal is to eventually have a primary care physician specifically devoted to same-day appointments.

A handful of other services like surgical intensive care and orthopedics are also scheduled to be expanded in the coming years.

“Even in northern Arizona, we’re delivering care that not only is as good as but better than a lot of the hospitals in Phoenix. … The perception that you have to go to Phoenix to get good, quality care is not a reality. We’re delivering it right here in your backyard,” Mougin said.

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Kaitlin Olson can be reached at the office at kolson@azdailysun.com or by phone at (928) 556-2253. 

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