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NUMC ranked top rural critical access hospital in U.S.

Submitted photo New Ulm Medical Center staff pose with a banner Friday denoting their new status as number one top-ranking Critical Access Top Hospital 2019. This year is also the eighth time NUMC has been named amongst the top 100 rural hospitals in the United States.

NEW ULM — Quality medical care and access to a growing array of medical services are just two of many factors that explain why New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) has been named the number one top critical access rural hospital in the United States in 2019.

This year is also the eighth time NUMC has been named among the top 100 rural hospitals out of nearly 1,300 rural hospitals and 4,500 hospitals nationwide.

Through the Hospital Strength Index performance summary report compiled by The Chartis Group and iVantage Health Analytics, advisory and analytics services firms serving the healthcare industry, over 1,300 rural hospitals were screened for their market share, value and finance performance.

NUMC President Toby Freier said the hospital’s employee satisfaction and engagement of patients is a key reason for their success. He said the hospital index not only serves as a means to recognize leading hospitals, but also as a way to connect healthcare providers and potentially learn from each others’ practice.

“That’s why organizations like this (The Chartis Group and iVantage Health Analytics), they go through that,” he said. “And part of the reason is, not only to recognize those, but also what can we learn from those that are leading in performance across the nation? What are they doing different and what innovative approaches are they taking?”

Within the Hospital Strength Index, NUMC ranks among the 86th to 93rd percentile in market share, the 66th to 94th percentile in value and the 84th percentile in finance.

NUMC’s success within market share performance is due to its high number of healthcare services provided for a rural region and its provider recruitment and growth in services.

Within its value performance, NUMC was screened for its quality of services, patient success outcomes, patient perspective, healthcare cost and charge.

Freier said NUMC’s price increases are lower than its peers across the industry and this compares favorably on its services.

He said the growth in services has helped improve affordability by spreading fixed costs on more patient visits.

Within finance, Freier said NUMC has achieved stability by maximizing ergonomical use of the campus without overbuilding. This has kept fixed prices such as utilities down while growing services and patient admissions have helped the hospital attain financial stability.

He said the support of being a part of an excellent system like Allina Health is key for New Ulm.

“Our community has been just phenomenal supporters of wanting to support the local hospital,” he said. “Not every community has that.”

Freier said the hospital is also fortunate to have supporters from local philanthropists and organizations. He said the hospital’s had many projects that may have never come to fruition if the community hadn’t supported it.

For example, Freier said NUMC was the first in the region to provide 3D mammography, or breast screening. He said it’s an expensive technology costing $150,000, but the NUMC Foundation backed the funding through the community.

Freier said he recalls a presentation he gave in the community on July 14, 2011 that detailed the hospital’s vision for its future in New Ulm. Freier’s 2011 presentation stated the hospital aimed to differentiate from other rural clinics with better clinical access, outcomes, patient experience, cost effectiveness and community health.

Now in 2019, Freier said the hospital has realized its vision of being recognized as a national model for rural health performance, and is now ranked as the number one rural critical access hospital in the United States.

“We’re not going to create flags or banners that say we’re number one,” Freier said. “But I’m going to make sure our team here knows how appreciative the leaders are. They worked really hard to get to this place.”

Freier said NUMC’s greater vision for the future is to attain status and recognition as a “destination community” where people and businesses can realize their true health potential.

gcureton@nujournal.com

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