As a retired anesthesiologist of some 40 years, people ask me how or why Wilcox
Memorial Hospital became one of the 100 best hospitals in the United
I worked for 33 years in another hospital on the list, Baystate
Medical Center in Springfield, Mass. That hospital has in excess of 900 beds,
nine times larger than Wilcox, is a branch of Tufts University Medical School,
is a teaching hospital with cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, and performs
It is certified by the JCHA (Joint Commission of Hospital
Accreditation), the standard for hospital excellence. The top 100 listing is
produced by Health Care Investment Analysts (HCIA).
Wilcox is listed in the
top 20 of the 100 lists, those with 25-99 beds. The total number of 100 top
hospitals is divided into five classes, i.e. hospitals with 25-99 beds, medium
size hospitals, large community hospitals and teaching hospitals, 20 hospitals
in each group.
It should be obvious that hospitals in the 25-99 bed size
do not have the staff, equipment and wherewithal of the large community
hospitals and teaching hospitals.
The HCIA report identifies industry
benchmarks by recognizing hospitals and their management teams that demonstrate
superior operational and financial performance.
Obviously, of the top 100
hospitals, it is like comparing apples and oranges when you compare the less
than 100-bed Wilcox Memorial with one such as Brigham and Women’s in Boston or
Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., all of which are in the “Top
It should be stated clearly that there are some excellent
doctors on the staff of Wilcox Memorial.
Cardiologist Harlan Krumholy of
the Yale School of Medicine, who published an analysis of the HCIA listing,
says individual cases vary too much for ratings to affect patient decisions. He
complains that HCIA focuses too intensely on the bottom line, rewarding
hospitals that cut costs but don’t deliver better care.
A study was
published this year in the journal, “Health Affairs,” analyzing the HCIA’s top
100 list of cardiac facilities and found that patients fared no better at the
listed facilities than at other heart centers—only their insurance companies
got off easier with a stay at the listed hospital, he said, because of lower
Further information may be found on HCIA.com.
Ray T. Smith,