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20 Illinois hospitals earn top marks from government — and 13 get lowest rating

Friday, December 22, 2017
Chicago Tribune
by Lisa Schenker

Twenty Illinois hospitals have won the federal government’s highest rating when it comes to quality — and 13 have earned its lowest.

The ratings, released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, were delayed by months after the American Hospital Association criticized the system and the government made changes to it.

The system awards hospitals one to five stars based on up to 57 measures, including patient readmissions, patient experience, speed of care and death rates for conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia.

Rush University Medical Center was the only Chicago hospital to notch five stars. Rush’s rating increased from four stars to five stars this year.

“It’s very gratifying to see CMS’ own data recognize this excellence and the better outcomes for patients that we’re achieving,” said Dr. Larry Goodman, CEO of the Rush system and Rush University Medical Center, in a news release.

Other Chicago-area hospitals that earned five stars include Evanston Hospital, Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, Amita Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, Amita Health St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates, Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Palos Hospital in Palos Heights, Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Centegra Hospital-McHenry and Amita Health Adventist Medical Center in La Grange, among others.

Other hospitals, however, didn’t fare as well under the revised system.

Chicago hospitals including the University of Illinois Hospital, Cook County’s Stroger Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital each received one star.

Representatives of the University of Illinois Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital said the rankings don’t reflect the hospitals’ quality of care. A spokeswoman for the Cook County Health and Hospitals System also said Stroger takes pride in the quality of its care. She said many of the hospital’s Medicare patients are referred from other hospitals and often lack the resources and social supports that help keep patients from being readmitted.

The star rating system has faced criticism from hospitals since it began last year. “While it may be well intentioned, the CMS star ratings program is confusing for patients and families and raises far more questions than answers,” the American Hospital Association said in a Thursday statement.

The star ratings are supposed to be updated twice a year, but Thursday’s release is the first since December 2016. The federal government delayed this year’s release as it made changes to the rating system. Not all hospitals in Illinois were rated.

Hospitals are rated each year by a number of organizations, which all use different methodologies and criteria. Experts caution that patients should consider ratings as just one factor when choosing hospitals.

Twitter @lschencker

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