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March 13, 2019

Here's how federal CMS rates Maine's 34 hospitals for quality

Courtesy / Richard Sawyer Photography Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland is one of three Maine hospitals receiving the top quality rating from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Three of Maine’s 34 hospitals have received the top quality rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in its newly updated ratings for more than 4,500 Medicare-certified hospitals in the United States.

Five stars is the federal agency’s highest rating for excellence in care and overall quality. Ratings published by CMS on its “Hospital Compare” website are designed to help consumers make informed decisions by comparing hospitals based on safety, clinical quality and patient experience.

The 57 quality measures that are evaluated to arrive at the overall quality rating focus on these general indicators of a hospital’s excellence in care and quality:

  • Survey of patients’ experiences: How patients recently discharged from the hospital responded to a survey about their hospital experience. The survey asked questions such as how well a hospital’s doctors and nurses communicated with the patient.
  • Timely and effective care: How often or how quickly hospitals give recommended treatments known to get the best results for people with certain common conditions.
  • Complications and deaths: How likely it is that patients will have complications while in the hospital or after certain inpatient surgical procedures, and how often patients died within 30 days of being in the hospital for a specific condition.
  • Unplanned hospital visits: Whether patients return to a hospital after an initial hospital stay or outpatient procedure, and how much time they spend back in the hospital.
  • Use of medical imaging: How a hospital uses outpatient medical imaging tests (like CT scans and MRIs).
  • Payment and value of care: How payments made for patients treated at a particular hospital compare to all hospitals nationally, and the value of care provided by individual hospitals.

The three Maine hospitals receiving CMS’s highest five-star rating are: Maine Medical Center in Portland; Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland; Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent.

“Fewer than 300 hospitals nationwide received this distinction,” Charlie Therrien, president of Northern Light Mercy Hospital, said of his hospital’s five-star rating. “This achievement is a direct reflection of the approach taken by all at Mercy who continually strive to maintain the highest quality care in order to provide the very best patient experience.”

Four-, three- and two-star ratings

Hospitals receiving the next-highest four-star rating: Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital, Blue Hill; Bridgton Hospital, Bridgton; Down East Community Hospital, Machias; MaineGeneral Medical Center, Augusta; Mid Coast Hospital, Brunswick; Millinocket Regional Hospital, Millinocket; Mount Desert Island Hospital, Bar Harbor; Northern Light Inland Hospital, Waterville; Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital, Ellsworth; Redington Fairview General Hospital, Skowhegan; Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital, Pittsfield; St. Andrews Hospital, Damariscotta; Stephens Memorial Hospital, Norway; York Hospital, York.

Hospitals receiving the three-star rating: Cary Medical Center, Caribou; Franklin Memorial Hospital, Farmington; Houlton Regional Hospital, Houlton; Mayo Regional Hospital, Dover-Foxcroft; Penobscot Bay Medical Center, Rockport; Penobscot Valley Hospital, Lincoln; St. Joseph Hospital, Bangor; St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, Lewiston; Rumford Hospital, Rumford; Waldo County General Hospital, Belfast;

Hospitals receiving the two-star rating: Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital, Presque Isle (formerly Aroostook Medical Center); Calais Regional Hospital, Calais; Central Maine Medical Center, Lewiston; Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor; Southern Maine Health Care, Biddeford.

Two hospitals were not rated by CMS: Northern Light CA Dean Hospital, Greenville, which CMS stated had “too few measures or measure groups reported” for it to calculate a star rating; and Togus VA Medical Center, Augusta, with CMS noting that star ratings are not calculated for Veterans Health Administration or Department of Defense hospitals.

How to use the ratings

On its “Hospital Compare” website, CMS gives health care consumers the opportunity to compare a hospital’s quality of care and service against other hospitals. Using Northern Light Mercy Hospital as an example, by clicking on the hospital’s tab the viewer is brought to Mercy’s profile, with tabs for specific quality measures and how it compares against averages for Maine and the nation. It’s also possible to compare one hospital’s measures against another’s — for example, Mercy against the other five-star rated hospital in Portland, Maine Medical Center

When comparing hospitals, CMS encourages consumers to look for a hospital that:

  • Has the best experience with your condition.
  • Checks and improves the quality of its care.
  • Performs well on measures of quality, including a national patient survey, that are published on the Hospital Compare.
  • Participates in Medicare.
  • Meets your needs in terms of location and other factors, like visiting hours.
  • Is covered by your health plan.


CMS guide to choosing quality hospitals

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