Huntington Hospital scored a five-star rating from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in its annual 2021 hospital rankings.
The hospital, which is the only one in Suffolk County to achieve a five-star rating this year, has climbed the rankings over the last year, with three stars in 2019 and four stars in 2020.
“This is a reflection of the dedication of all the staff here,” said Huntington Hospital Executive Director Nick Fitterman. “What it means for the community is that they can get great care in their backyard.”
The top 13.56 percent of hospitals nationwide received five stars in 2021, according to the CMS website.
The rating measures five qualities, including mortality, safety, readmission, patient experience and timely and effective care. The first four categories receive a 22 percent weighting, while timely and effective care receives 12 percent.
The star rating encompasses over 100 measures CMS publicly reports, including the death rate for heart attack patients, surgical site infections for colon surgery, percentage of health care workers given influenza vaccinations, and the percentage of patients receiving appropriate recommendations for follow-up screening colonoscopy, among other measures.
“The five-star quality rating system is ultimately grounded in helping patients and their families make informed care decisions,” a CMS spokesman said in a statement. The ratings provide a general indication or what to expect in the future based on how a facility performed in the past.
Fitterman suggested that the rating reflects the hospital’s dedication to its mission, rather than focusing on achieving a specific rating.
Delivering excellence in clinical care is “the best and only strategy,” Fitterman said. “We don’t perseverate on what the rating agencies are looking for: we perseverate on what we think we’re doing for our patient.”
The improvements over the last few years have been incremental in numerous areas, including in neurosurgery and stroke care, cardiovascular care, and orthopedic care, which is ranked in the top 50 in the country, Fitterman said.
Fitterman praised the nursing staff, which he described as “first class,” and suggested that their culture is “contagious.”
While Huntington Hospital, which is part of Northwell Health System, doesn’t negotiate independently as a hospital, he said companies and payers “want to align themselves with high quality institutions and providers in their networks, because good [care] equates to less expensive care.”
After Fitterman received the news last week about the five stars, he walked through the hospital, high-fiving and fist pumping everyone from valets to engineers, to the food and nutrition workers and the doctors and the nurses.
“There was such excitement and jubilation and everyone realizes the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears, that go into the job,” the executive director said. “They put their heart into what they do. To get that public recognition was outstanding.”
Fitterman said he walks the halls each day, thanking staff for what they do and reminding them that they don’t just do their own task. They are all “helping relieve the suffering of others.”