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Why Dupont Hospital’s Top 100 Ranking Matters – Part 2

Yesterday we congratulated Dupont Hospital, Lutheran Health Network (LHN), and Community Health Services (CHS)–owner of LHN–on being named one of just five Indiana hospitals in the nation’s Top 100, according to a report issued by Truven Health Analytics and IBM Watson Health. This is the fourth consecutive year Dupont has been included in the Top 100. Dupont’s governance, as was discussed in Sherry Slater’s article in a recent Journal Gazette article (see http://www.journalgazette.net/…/lutheran-flap-shows-issue-w…), has been local and with significant board representation by physicians–but some who have been involved in the tradition of excellence have been removed from posts or left the board. We hope that their absence and the loss of some other members of the Quality Team do not change the strong cultural foundations of Dupont.

It is also a worry that, across town, CHS has allowed Lutheran Hospital to drop to a two-star Medicare Compare rating (Dupont is a four-star hospital). This week’s significant stock-price plunge for CHS stock (symbol CYH) after again missing its earnings forecast brings a future worry. Analysts have called CHS management to task for decisions such as its purchase of Health Management Hospitals in Florida for $7.6 billion. It is possible that we are approaching a Perfect Storm for Lutheran Hospital whereby a difficult health care economy, management decisions that so far “have not lived up to their promises” (Modern Healthcare), the alienation of key physicians and a governance model that lessens local participation combine with cost cutting due to CHS financial pressures to do further harm to Lutheran Hospital.

These ratings matter because they provide objective measures of quality. Dupont should be commended for earning such a prestigious position, but we can only hope that it can escape harm given all the forces working in opposition to it retaining that position.