Small they may be, but Minnesota's highest-rated hospitals make a big noise


Earlier this week, national ratings for hospitals based on a new 5-star scale saw 12 facilities in Minnesota awarded the top score.

The ratings, based on patient feedback via the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, ranked hospitals in areas such as communication, responsiveness of staff, pain management and cleanliness,.

BringMeTheNews referenced analysis of the results by Kaiser Health News, who said that generally across the United States, "small, specialty hospitals" focusing on "lucrative elective operations" tended to get better reviews.

This is in comparison with general hospitals where "chaotic emergency rooms" and "diversity of sickness" was more likely to result in a negative experience for patients.

Well, after reading this, staff at Bigfork Valley Hospital – one of this state's 5-star rated facilities – got in contact with us to make the case that these generalizations by Kaiser Health are not applicable to Minnesota.

Although most of Minnesota's 12 5-star-rated hospitals tend to be found in smaller cities and aren't the sprawling centers found in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul, they also aren't the "specialty hospitals" as characterized by Kaiser Health.

"Kaiser Health has suggested that small specialty hospitals have an advantage in the patient experience star ratings," Bigfork Valley Hospital executive marketing director Sally Sedgewick said. "That may be true nationally, but all of the five star hospitals in Minnesota are acute, general hospitals that see any case that comes through the emergency doors."

"Some may be small, but they are all general hospitals seeing a 'diversity of sickness,'" she added.

We should 'be proud' of Minnesota's hospitals

Bigfork Valley Hospital, which provides emergency, acute and rehabilitative care as well as a wide range of surgeries, was the best performing Minnesota hospital in the rankings, gaining 5 star ratings in 11 out of 12 categories.

And though the larger size and demand on services may have impacted patient feedback for hospitals such Hennepin County Medical Center (2 stars), United Hospital in St. Paul (3 stars) and Essentia Health Duluth (3 stars), Sedgewick says this should in no way diminish the achievements of the state's best-performing hospitals.

"Bigfork Valley has been at or near the top of the ratings in patient satisfaction since the first patient surveys went out in 2006," she said. "We've fielded questions from around the country on how we do it. But in fact, it's our culture to treat each patient as if they were a friend or family member.

"A commitment to the patient is widespread in Minnesota, and we should all be very proud of the state's hospitals for their exceptional showing nationally," she added.

The 5-star rated hospitals in Minnesota are:

  • Bigfork Valley Hospital, Bigfork
  • Lakeview Memorial Hospital, Stillwater
  • Municipal Hospital and Granite Manor, Granite Falls
  • Riverwood Healthcare Center, Aitkin
  • Fairview Northland Regional Hospital, Princeton
  • Healtheast Woodwinds Hospital, Woodbury
  • Sleepy Eye Municipal Hospital, Sleepy Eye
  • Redwood Area Hospital, Redwood Falls
  • New Ulm Medical Center, New Ulm
  • Mayo Clinic Health System, New Prague
  • Sanford Luverne Medical Center, Luverne
  • Lakewood Health System, Staples

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