LEWISTON — About six months after Central Maine Medical Center’s safety grade dropped to a C, making it one of the lowest-rated hospitals in Maine, the Lewiston hospital has rebounded.
The Leapfrog Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that tracks health care safety, quality and value at hospitals, has upgraded CMMC to an A.
It is now one of the highest-rated hospitals in the state.
“I am thrilled about it,” said Mary-Anne D. Ponti, system chief nursing officer for Central Maine Healthcare, CMMC’s parent. “I would like to say it’s one thing, but there’s no silver bullet in this.”
Leapfrog looks at hospitals’ infection rates, patient injuries, surgical problems, safety practices and staff behavior. It releases its grades twice a year.
CMMC typically earns an A or B, but in late April it dropped to a C. Leapfrog said CMMC had problems with bloodstream infections from central lines inserted in ICU patients, urinary tract infections in ICU patients with catheters, dangerous bed sores and deaths from treatable complications — such as pneumonia or heart attacks — after surgery.
The infections were reported between 2016 and 2017. The bed sores and treatable complication deaths were reported between 2014 and 2015.
CMMC officials said Wednesday that bed sores have dropped dramatically since the hospital started a special training program for nurses and other clinicians in 2015.
They said they have also since seen significant decreases in central line infections, urinary tract infections, surgical site infections and post-operative infections along incision lines since they started re-educating staff about standards of care and infections over the past year or so.
“It just has gotten a lot of focus since we got here,” said Ponti, who joined the hospital system a little over a year ago. “We didn’t have enough time to have it catch up when the last grades had come out, but we were like, ‘I know we’re tracking in a better direction. We’re seeing things get better.'”
CMMC officials said the hospital also has worked on regulating medication ordering and is now using bar-code technology when giving medicine to patients in order to “make sure it’s the right person getting the right drug at the right time,” Ponti said.
To ensure the hospital’s grades stay high, officials said, they’re continually doing team training and promoting a culture of safety.
“Empowering staff to feel like they can speak up when they’ve got that concern,” said Angela Dubuc, interim director of quality for the system. “No matter if it’s a perceived concern or a real concern, they should still feel confident that they can raise it and that people will listen and will resolve that.”
Central Maine Heathcare also recently hired its first chief quality officer. John Alexander started two weeks ago.
Leapfrog graded 15 of Maine’s largest hospitals this fall. Six received As. Seven received Bs. Two got Cs.
St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston also improved its scores, jumping from a B to an A.
Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth, Mercy Hospital in Portland, Northern Light Inland Hospital in Waterville and SMHC Medical Center in Biddeford also received As.
Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, which has received straight A’s for at least the past three years, dropped to a C. Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport dropped from a B to a C.
An aerial view of Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston taken Aug. 9, 2018. (Sun Journal file photo)