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Mercy Medical Center - Des Moines Recognized For Quality In Cardiac Care

December 17, 2013

Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® has named Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines as one of the first hospitals in the nation to receive a Blue Distinction Center Plus (+) designation in the area of cardiac care, as part of the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care® program. Blue Distinction Centers are hospitals shown to deliver quality specialty care based on objective, transparent measures for patient safety and health outcomes that were developed with input from the medical community. This year, the national program has added a new designation level, Blue Distinction Center Plus (+), to recognize hospitals that deliver both quality and cost-efficient specialty care. 
In 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program was developed to help patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver. To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Cardiac CareSM designation, a hospital must demonstrate success in meeting both general quality and safety criteria (such as preventing hospital acquired infections) and cardiac-specific quality measures (related to lower rates of complications and death following cardiac surgery; and non surgical procedures, such as cardiac stent placement) and, additionally, must show better cost efficiency relative to its peers. Quality is key: only those facilities that first meet Blue Distinction's nationally established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+.
"The integration of Iowa Heart Center physicians and staff with Mercy continues a rich history of Mercy as a regionally renowned cardiac center. Iowa Heart Center physicians and staff constantly work to improve the delivery of quality care and the Mercy Experience," says Mercy President Robert Ritz.
"From the beginning in 1970 Iowa Heart Center has had a solid partner in Mercy," says Mark Tannenbaum, M.D. chief physician executive officer Iowa Heart Center and physician leader cardiovascular services at Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines. "As evidenced by this recognition from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, together we have developed some of the best cardiac care available anywhere in the nation. With Mercy's support we continue to break new ground, through participation in national and international research. For our patients we are shaping the cardiac care of the future."
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming nearly 600,000 lives each year. Cardiac procedures, including bypass and cardiac stent placement, are among the most common major medical procedures provided by the U.S. health care system, with more than 1 million procedures performed annually. These cardiac related procedures cost the nation more than $28 billion annually. The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program seeks to reduce this burden by empowering patients with the knowledge and tools to find both quality and value for their cardiac care needs.
"Blue Distinction Centers set themselves apart by adhering to best practices in patient safety and surgical care and producing consistently strong outcomes with fewer complications," said Timothy Gutshall, M.D., Wellmark vice president and chief medical officer. "Wellmark is proud to recognize the high-quality and cost-effective care these hospitals and physicians deliver."
Research shows that Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients, with lower rates of complications following certain cardiac procedures and lower rates of health care associated infections, compared with their peers. Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent more cost efficient for those same procedures.
The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program identifies hospitals delivering quality care in bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants. These specialty areas comprise approximately 30 percent of inpatient hospital expenditures. For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit bcbs.com/bluedistinction.

About Mercy Medical Center

Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines is a not-for-profit Catholic health care provider. Mercy Des Moines’ hospitals, with a total of 875 beds, include: Mercy Medical Center – Central Campus, Mercy Medical Center – West Lakes, Mercy Children's Hospital & Clinics, Mercy Medical Center – Centerville, Skiff Medical Center in Newton.

Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1893, Mercy is the longest continually operating hospital in Des Moines.

With approximately 7,000 staff members and a medical staff of about 1,200 physicians and allied health professionals, Mercy is one of the state’s largest employers and one of the Midwest’s largest referral centers.

Mercy is accredited by The Joint Commission — a seal of approval indicating Mercy meets strict performance standards, provides high quality patient care and demonstrates accountability in the rapidly changing field of health care.

Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines is a member of Mercy Health Network (MHN) and is a part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), a national nonprofit health organization with headquarters in Englewood, Colorado. The faith-based system operates in 18 states and includes 103 hospitals and multiple other facilities and services.

Fourteen of Iowa’s community hospitals — from Bloomfield and Webster City to Greenfield and beyond — have chosen to affiliate with Mercy Health Network – Central Iowa. Through contracted relationships, Mercy provides management and support services to these community hospitals, who work together to share best practices and process improvements, to improve quality and service while lowering the costs of care.

Mercy Clinics, a subsidiary of Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines, is one of Iowa’s largest multispecialty clinic systems. The system includes more than 50 primary care, pediatric, internal medicine and specialty clinic locations throughout Dallas, Guthrie, Polk, Wapello and Warren counties.