CUMBERLAND — The Western Maryland Health System Heart Institute an-nounced that it has been ranked among the top 5 percent in the nation for heart surgery, and the top 10 percent for overall cardiac care, according to a comprehensive study released by HealthGrades, the nation’s leading health-care ratings company.

WMHS Heart Institute is the recipient of the 2007 HealthGrades Cardiac Surgery Excellence Award™ and the Cardiac Care Excellence Award™. Additionally, WMHS Heart Institute is ranked No. 1 in Maryland for heart surgery and No. 1 in Maryland for overall cardiac services for the second consecutive year.

“We are honored to receive this recognition for the quality cardiac care we provide to our patients,” said Barry P. Ronan, WMHS president/CEO. “Our goal was to develop a quality cardiac surgery program for area residents, and we have been able to establish a nationally recognized program thanks to the commitment of the entire team at the WMHS Heart Institute. This is the fourth time that HealthGrades has ranked our cardiac surgery program among the top 5 percent in the nation for heart surgery and we are so proud of that accomplishment.

“This commitment to excellence extends to our entire cardiac care program, including our coronary interventional procedures. Our ranking as No. 1 in Maryland for overall cardiac services again this year lets our patients know that the best care is close to home.”

As part of its ninth annual Hospital Quality in America Study, HealthGrades independently analyzed more than 5,000 hospitals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, objectively assessing their clinical outcomes and quality.

The ratings take into account varying degrees of patient severity from hospital to hospital and measure whether patient outcomes for each of more than two dozen procedures and diagnoses are better than expected, as expected or worse than expected.

“Consumers continue to ask for more and better information to help them in their health care decision-making,” said Samantha Collier, M.D., HealthGrades vice president of medical affairs. “Our analysis provides an apples-to-apples comparison of hospital performance by procedure or diagnosis, and it is evident there is significant variance between individual hospitals. For WMHS Heart Institute to rank among the nation’s best reflects the efforts of everybody in the organization, and should be very comforting to area residents.”

The 2007 HealthGrades ratings for all hospitals nationwide are available at www.healthgrades.com. HealthGrades also provides consumers and payers with detailed assessments of hospitals’ patient-safety outcomes, based on indicators developed by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The WMHS Heart Institute was established on the Sacred Heart campus in November 2000 with the creation of the first cardiac surgery program in Western Maryland. More information about the health system is available at www.wmhs.com.

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