A new raking from Washington Monthly magazine has named Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark among the top 20 safety net hospitals in the nation.
The magazine's new index is based not only on quality of care, but also on how well hospitals treat the poor and people of color.
“Of all the national awards that Saint Michael’s has received, this one is particularly meaningful because it recognizes that the hospital is serving our community extremely well,” Dr. Alan Sickles, the COO of Saint Michael’s, said in a statement.
“We are especially proud of our high scores in civic leadership because it reflects our commitment to our social mission of equity, inclusion and community health. It’s a testament to the value of Saint Michael’s to our community," Dr. Sickles said. “Our employees and medical staff are truly dedicated to making the most vulnerable members of our community get the highest quality healthcare that they rightfully deserve,” Sickles said.
The magazine's civic leadership ranks hospitals on the degree to which a hospital treats patients with the same income and other demographics as its surrounding community; how much it contributes in community benefit, from providing charity care to building and operating free clinics; and how much it pays its senior executive compared to its frontline workers.
Washington Monthly also used value of care as a metric, which ranks the cost of care provided by hospitals.
Washington Monthly said it developed its ranking system over the last decade to compete with U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” list, which it said rewards hospitals for their reputations and record of delivering expensive specialized treatments and surgeries—regardless of cost or the institution’s record of serving less-well-off people in its vicinity.” Washington Monthly’s metrics were produced in partnership with the Lown Institute, a nonpartisan health care think tank.
“Taking on U.S. News made sense to us because its rankings have real power,” said Paul Glastris, the editor in chief of Washington Monthly. “Hospital administrators all over the country devote considerable energy to climbing them—and then bragging about it on expensive billboard ads—because doing so helps bring in more well-insured patients. Yet such behavior also fuels the profligate and inegalitarian tendencies of our health care system.
Washington Monthly’s new approach to rankings yielded radically different results than that of U.S. News. The magazine prides itself on a producing a ranking of best colleges in the United States that is also uses different metrics the ranking produced by U.S. News.
Glastris said most Americans think of the prestigious teaching hospitals that dominate the U.S. News top 20 “honor roll” as the nation’s “best.” Yet not one of those institutions appears on Washington Monthly’s top 20 list, while many of them score low on the Washington Monthly/Lown Institute civic leadership metrics.
Glastris said that hospitals in Washington Monthly’s Best Hospitals for America list are accomplishing a feat more challenging than those on U.S. News’ ranking.
“They are taking in a diverse patient population, healing those patients, and not overtreating them,” Glastris said. “We think every American ought to have access to institutions like these.”
Only four years ago, Saint Michael’s was on the brink of being shuttered when it was purchased out of bankruptcy by Prime Healthcare, an award-winning national healthcare system with 46 hospitals in 14 states.
Since then, Prime has invested millions to upgrade medical equipment, including state-of-the tools for treating cancer and cardiac diseases. At the same time, Saint Michael’s has benefited from Prime’s national network, employing best practices developed at top Prime hospitals around the country.
For the last four evaluation periods, Saint Michael’s has received an A from the Leapfrog Group for patient safety and for the last two years in a row, it has received a patient safety excellence award from Healthgrades.
“I am incredibly proud of the administration, staff and employees of Saint Michaels Medical Center. Being named one of the top 20 hospitals in the United States by Washington Monthly is a testament to the hard work by our entire team," said the Rev. Dr. Ronald Slaughter, the chair of Saint Michael's board.
"This also proves that Saint Michael’s takes serious the type of care that it provides to all those that enter our facility," said Slaughter, who is also the pastor of Saint James AME Church in Newark. "Saint Michael’s is indeed a beacon of hope for those who are in need of professional, caring and world-class health care.”