Minnesota’s rural hospitals rank high on satisfaction, care

If you’re wondering how your local hospital rates when it comes to treating heart attacks or pneumonia or whether patients feel well cared for, check out the Minnesota Hospital Quality Report, produced by the Minnesota Hospital Association and Stratis Health.

The site, around since 2006, provides an interesting glimpse of how urban hospitals fare compared to their rural counterparts. The rankings — based on information hospitals and patients provide to the state and federal government and other entities — vary depending on what’s being measured. Not all hospitals are included, in part because some are too small to provide a reliable sampling.

But in many cases, rural hospitals come out on top. Often seen as under stress because of economic pressures and declining populations, rural hospitals nonetheless beat both state averages and urban hospitals on many measures.

For example, when it comes to providing “appropriate care” for heart failure, the best hospital in the state, according to the Quality Report, is Buffalo Hospital in Buffalo, northwest of the Twin Cities. The hospital took appropriate steps 100 percent of the time, compared to the state average of 84 percent.

When measuring patient satisfaction–by factors like communication, pain maintenance and even room quietness–one of the top hospitals in the state is Bigfork Valley Hospital in Bigfork, a town of around 500 people in northern Minnesota.

Bigfork ranked best, in fact, when patients were asked to score their hospitals overall, earning top marks 93 percent of the time, compared to the state average of 69 percent. “We’re a small joint but we really take the thing seriously,” says Bigfork Valley’s Dr. Heidi Korstad. “Our patients understand that.”

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