MOULTRIE -- Colquitt Regional Medical Center continues to collect honors for patient care. And much of this greater proficiency is employee driven as opposed to management dictates, CRMC officials note.

The Georgia Medical Care Foundation, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid delivery in the state, will feature CRMC in a brochure which highlights hospitals for outstanding quality care.

Cathy Rowell, performance improvement coordinator for the hospital and home health care, said the foundation measures compliance with "best practices."

CRMC was chosen as a medium size hospital to be highlighted for its compliance. Three areas are currently targeted for measurement -- heart attack, congestive heart failure and pneumonia.

Rowell said a standard is set for dealing with these issues and the hospitals are measured against those standards.

"The program addresses quality of care in each of these areas," she said, noting that it's about following certain procedures that the experts deem crucial to the best of care.

The brochure will feature two other hospitals in the large and small categories.

And in the area of patient satisfaction, once again CRMC has been ranked No. 1 in the state in in-patient services as well as No. 1 in emergency room services.

For in-patient services, CRMC has been ranked No. 1 three times in the past four years. In emergency services, the top ranking has come five times in the past four years. The rankings are announced quarterly.

The ranking is performed by Satis Quest, a professional agency representing the Volunteer Hospital Systems. Some 26 to 28 hospitals statewide are included in this patient satisfaction analysis.

"This is all about changing cultures," said CRMC administrator Jim Lowry. "And it comes from the employees. They are setting the standards."

Lowry said several years ago CRMC started sending employees to study other hospitals that were deemed very proficient in this venue.

"When we first got into this, I said let's be better than the average. Then we continued to raise the bar to the top 25 percent and then the top 5 percent," Lowry added.

Lowry described the competition as "positive and collegial."

"I'm more concerned with our rankings in Southwest Georgia than all over the state. Archbald in Thomasville and Tift General have had No. 1 rankings and Phoebe Putney in Albany is making runs at it. This tells me as a group we have raised the bar in our area," said Lowry. "How do we stack up here? -- that's important to me. We have all benefited from this competition."

Kerry Faunce, CRMC marketing director, said these improvements come at a time when hospitals are facing many challenges with rising costs in many areas of delivering service. In addition to the honors for quality care and patient satisfaction, CRMC audits have praised the hospital's fiscal performance.

"While many hospitals have been operating in the red, we've been in the black," said Faunce.

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