Patient Satisfaction Varies at Local Hospitals



90.3 WBHM When the Jefferson County Commission voted last month to close Cooper Green’s inpatient unit and instead establish a "hub and spoke" model featuring an urgent care facility and two clinics focused on preventive care, it sparked intense debate in the community. County Commission President David Carrington defended the decision, arguing the hospital isn't efficient and should be downsized), while State Representative John Rogers accused county officials of mismanaging the finances of the hospital. The City of Birmingham tried unsuccessfully to block the closure of in-patient services and the Rev. Al Sharpton will reportedly enter the fray later this week when he comes to Birmingham to participate in a protest rally.

There have been weekly public protests in downtown Birmingham. At a recent rally, citizen activist Sheila Tyson said the closure would affect poor people who desperately need Cooper Green. Several protesters also noted that Cooper Green has some of the highest patient satisfaction numbers in the country. That was the case just a few years ago, but new data paint a different picture.

Hospitals provide the results of patient satisfaction surveys to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Patients are asked whether medical staff communicated well, whether their pain was controlled, whether the bathrooms were clean and whether their room was quiet at night. They are also asked for an overall score for the hospital and whether they would recommend it to a friend.

Here are the results for Cooper Green Medical Center, compared to neighboring UAB Hospital and St. Vincent's Health System (where Cooper Green in-patients might be likely diverted).

The Dept of Health and Human Services notes that "Preparing the data for public reporting includes taking certain factors into account in ways that help ensure fair comparisons among hospitals. For example, the mix of patients can differ from one hospital to the next, and these differences in the patient mix can affect a hospital’s HCAHPS results. Data preparation takes these differences into account so that the survey results reported on this website are what would be expected for each hospital if all hospitals had a similar mix of patients." The data above was last updated on October 11, 2012

You can compare up to three hospitals of your choosing by using this handy tool.

- Tanya Ott, October 23, 2012