Legacy Salmon Creek gets grade of A for hospital safety

PeaceHealth Southwest receives a D in national nonprofit’s annual grades

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter



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When it comes to hospital safety, Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center is among the top of the class, according to a national nonprofit organization.

The Leapfrog Group issued its fall Hospital Safety Grades for more than 2,600 hospitals across the country and gave Legacy Salmon Creek an A.

“We’re proud of it,” said Kelly Espinoza, chief nursing officer at Legacy Salmon Creek. “This is part of our culture. This is who we are and what we’re proud of. It’s a tribute to our staff.”

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center received a D.

Dr. Lawrence Neville, PeaceHealth Southwest’s chief medical officer, said the hospital’s low grade is humbling. But, Neville said, he’s confident the care provided at PeaceHealth Southwest meets personal care standards.

One standard, he said, is whether he would bring his own family member to the hospital for care.

“Very confidently I can answer ‘yes,’ ” Neville said. “I would feel very confident in doing so.”

Safety ratings

The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit dedicated to improving safety, quality and affordability of health care by promoting transparency. For its Hospital Safety Grades, Leapfrog uses 27 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign letter grades to hospitals.

The measures used to determine the grades include MSRA and clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection rates, death from treatable surgery complications, communication about medications, dangerous bed sores, patient falls and qualified nursing levels.

Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center was one of 832 hospitals awarded an A grade.

Other metro-area hospitals that received A grades include Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center in Clackamas, Ore., and Kaiser Westside Medical Center, Providence Portland Medical Center and Adventist Medical Center in Portland.

PeaceHealth Southwest was the only metro hospital to receive a D.

No hospital received an F.


Legacy Salmon Creek scored well in measures related to patient safety, such as preventing bed sores and patient falls, MRSA infections and complications following surgeries.

“Anything that has to do with prevention of harm and patient safety — and this is certainly an indication of that — is of huge importance,” Espinoza said. “It’s a daily focus with our nurses, with our clinicians.”

The Salmon Creek hospital scored below average on preventing other infections — in the blood and urinary tract during an ICU stay and at the surgical site after colon surgery.

The hospital was average in preventing C. diff infections.

“We do have challenges,” Espinoza said. “And we will constantly be vigilant.”

When infections do happen, Espinoza said, staff uses those experiences as an opportunity to learn and improve practices. The hospital discusses all of those areas of improvement during daily huddle meetings.

Receiving the high overall mark from Leapfrog validates what staff already knows about Legacy Salmon Creek, Espinoza said.

“Keeping that (grade) is probably the most important thing,” she said.


In some of the areas where PeaceHealth Southwest received low marks, Neville said he’s confident the scores would be better if more timely data was used. Much of the data Leapfrog uses is at least one year old, some is as much as four years old.

“We would score remarkably better,” Neville said. “Within a year, our score will be dramatically better than this time around, given the data lag.”

PeaceHealth Southwest received low marks in C. diff infection rates and rates of urinary tract infections during ICU stays, as well as several measures related to surgical problems (wounds splitting open, collapsed lungs, accidental cuts and tears, and serious breathing problems). The hospital also scored poorly in patient falls and bed sores.

Hospital staff has already addressed many of those areas, Neville said.

The hospital has taken steps to reduce the number of patient falls — cutting the number in half over the last three months, Neville said. In addition, staff is working to prevent diarrheal infections, like C. diff, that occur after a hospitalized patient takes antibiotics.

Another area of emphasis for PeaceHealth Southwest is becoming a magnet hospital for nurses — a status awarded by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center — and staffing the ICU with specialists.

PeaceHealth Southwest scored well in all other areas regarding infections, including rates of MRSA, surgical site infections and infections in the blood. The hospital also scored well in number of deaths from treatable complications and dangerous blood clots, as well as its electronic medical records.

“We’re really proud of the work that was reflected there,” Neville said.