The editorial about Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs, Hospital must open its books, in the Oct. 3 St. Petersburg Times raises some issues that I would like to address.
For four consecutive years, our hospital was awarded the Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence award by Health Grades, an independent rating agency that evaluates all hospitals without exception. The award was based on patient outcomes, including mortality and complications rate.
We are very proud of this independent rating, as it is demonstrable evidence of the high quality of care our physicians, nurses and staff provide every single day. We are proud of our very committed and capable team of medical professionals who make superior patient care their top priority.
Helen Ellis, like virtually every hospital in the nation, is being affected by today's challenging health care environment. All hospitals must overcome significant national and statewide cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other health care funding. And, yes, indigent care and uncollected bills are impacting us all.
The current economic climate is likely to make that an even bigger challenge across the nation over the next few years. With diminished funds and lower insurance company reimbursements, all hospitals are re-examining how we do things and removing redundancies where we find them. That is the reality.
But another important factor in our ability to turn around is improved community utilization. Recruiting new primary care physicians will help. Our upgraded MRI capabilities will also allow us to serve more local patients. And we are even more optimistic about the future when we receive state approval for elective angioplasties.
With improving local use of Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital at the heart of our turnaround efforts, we believe it's important that the community know the high caliber of hospital they have in their very own back yard.
These are difficult times for hospitals — times that require tough decisions. Our financial situation has been no secret. We are working hard with our partner, University Community Health, to improve financial performance, and that is happening.
We're proud of our hospital, its medical staff and the high quality of our patient care.
To those who ask what they can do to support the hospital, the answer is simple: Use its services and medical staff. As we continue to expand our offerings, we call on the community to see for themselves why Health Grades has given us such high ratings for patient care.
Dr. Thomas E. Carson is president of the Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital medical staff.