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Citrus Memorial stellar in surgery, orthopedics

Without making any targeted efforts, Citrus Memorial Health system recently ranked among the nation's top hospitals in categories such as general surgery and orthopedics.

"It is what it is," said Citrus Memorial spokeswoman Rebecca Martin. "We're darn good."

The rankings were released by HealthGrades, one of the country's leading health care ratings companies, in October. Martin said the company compiled Medicare data from 2003, 2004 and 2005 to process results.

The numbers put Citrus Memorial in the top 10 percent nationwide for orthopedic services and in the top 5 percent for general surgery. Martin said the hospital hadn't made any special efforts to boost service in those departments.

"As we've said before, the citizens of Citrus County should feel confident that they can get the same high-quality care found in more urban hospitals, right here at home, said hospital chief executive officer Ryan Beaty. "Congratulations to our entire team for these honors."

HealthGrades rates different procedures and services on a scale of one to five stars. A hospital receiving one star in a particular area is performing below the level that would be expected given its demographics, while a five-star rating marks a hospital as performing better than expected.

Citrus Memorial received five stars last year in several categories, but this year was the first time the hospital achieved the distinction for hip and knee surgery.

"HealthGrades is different from some other ratings companies because it looks only at clinical results," Martin said, "not financial information or anything like that."

Along with notification of the hospital's strengths, HealthGrades pointed out areas where Citrus Memorial could improve. Both pulmonary and stroke services received only a one-star rating.

Martin said she would talk with a consultant from the company next week to determine why those areas scored low.

Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center, the county's other hospital, also received a one-star rating for stroke and pulmonary services. Hospital spokeswoman Dorothy Pernu said she couldn't discuss the results.

Once the Healthgrades marks are out, hospitals must pay the company if they wish to use that information for promotions. Seven Rivers did not purchase the rights to speak about the ratings this year.

In terms of overall service, Seven Rivers was not rated in a number of areas, which means the hospital treated fewer than 30 patients with that particular procedure or diagnosis.

The hospital received three-star ratings for gastrointestinal services and general surgery, which means the level of service was what would be expected.

Elena Lesley can be reached at elesley@sptimes.com or 564-3627.

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