An Indiana-area medical-facilities report card

A Civic Project story

Lindsey C. August, Dec. 1, 2016. Photo by Nicolette Querry.

Lindsey C. August, Dec. 1, 2016. Photo by Nicolette Querry.

By Nicolette Querry

INDIANA – During Homecoming weekend 2016, Lindsey C. August, 22, an accounting major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, sought treatment for head pain at Indiana Regional Medical Center after the campus clinic told her she needed care it could not provide.

August went to IRMC that Sunday morning, Oct. 16, she said. Later that morning, she left with a bill but without a diagnosis.

The community hospital’s nurses told her she should receive a brain scan, August recounted later. But the IRMC physician who examined her ignored symptoms of concussion.

“He kept saying it’s probably just a headache,” August said in a Dec. 1 interview at a Wayne Avenue restaurant.

August had injured her head a week earlier on a rollercoaster at Kennywood’s Phantom Fright Night,  she said. A week later, a friend bumped her in the head. She began having trouble studying and became sensitive to light.

On Oct. 19, August returned home during an unscheduled break in classes, she said. Her mother took her to a medical facility in Sewickley where she received a CT scan and other tests that confirmed she had suffered a concussion. A Sewickley doctor prescribed pain killers and wrote a note to excuse her from classes until Oct. 23.

 

AUGUST IS NOT the only IUP student who has experienced problems with IRMC care. An unscientific Facebook poll of students conducted between Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 asked a single question: “Have you had any issues with Indiana Regional Medical Center within the last five years?”

The question was posted to Facebook groups for Class of 2017 and Class of 2018. Both groups are closed — only members of the two cohorts could respond to the question. Of 5,703 possible respondents, 86 answered the survey question (a 1.5 percent response rate).

Respondents who said yes, they have had issues with Indiana Regional Medical Center within the last five years, numbered 26, or 30.2 percent of all respondents. Sixty students said they had no issues.

IUP students have limited local choices for medical care if their ailments exceed the services of the Center for Health and Well-Being. Four community hospitals are within 25 miles of the campus. (See sidebar, below.) IRMC is closest.

The vast majority of Pennsylvania hospitals – 82 percent — rank higher than IRMC, according to HealthInsight, a private non-profit health-care organization based in four Western states. Its nationwide hospital rankings are based on data collected from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Pennsylvania has 170 hospitals, but 29 are unranked because of low case volumes. Of 141 ranked Pennsylvania hospitals, IRMC was 132nd for overall patient care.

U.S. News & World Report also ranks hospitals. Its 2015 rankings scored IRMC on a variety of medical specialties and departments. The average of the scores was 32.1 of 100 possible points.

Consumer Reports magazine publishes hospital safety scores based on readmissions, complications, communication, infections and overuse of CT scans. Top-rated hospitals have safety scores of 81, according to Consumer Reports. The lowest-rated facilities score 20. The highest possible score is 100.

The magazine this year gave IRMC a safety score of 49 out of 100 based on July 2016 data from the federal Medicare and Medicaid center’s data.

 

REACHED BY PHONE for reaction on Dec. 6, an IRMC spokesman asked to see the rankings data. Mark Richards, IRMC vice president of marketing and public relations, received a Dec. 7 email providing the data, August’s head-injury account and a request for contact information for August’s IRMC physician.

Richards did not respond to the email.

A Dec. 31 web search for the name of August’s IRMC physician indicated that he is practicing emergency medicine in Philadelphia. A recording on his office phone said he was unavailable.

 

AUGUST NO LONGER suffers from concussion, she said. But she remains disappointed with the quality of care she received at IRMC.

“I couldn’t believe someone would treat me like that,” August said. “I didn’t receive any help until I went to a different hospital.”

Nicolette Querry, an IUP senior majoring in journalism and mass communication, is from Kittanning.

 

Sidebar: Community hospitals within 25 miles of Indiana, Pa.

INDIANA — Indiana Regional Medical Center has 164 beds and 865 employees, according to the American Hospital Association. Its mission statement describes itself as “the county’s sole full-service healthcare provider” and its vision “to be the best community hospital in the country.”

IRMC may have some work to do, based on rankings of 141 Pennsylvania hospitals. IRMC ranked 132nd for overall patient care, according to analyses of federal health-care data by HealthInsight,  a private non-profit health-care organization.

Patients have alternatives. Within 25 miles of Indiana are three other hospitals, according to U.S. Hospital Finder,  a database of more than 6,000 U.S. hospitals. Two of them have higher HealthInsight rankings than IRMC:

Armstrong County Memorial Hospital, (23.45 miles away)
1 Nolte Drive
Kittanning, PA 16201
Phone: 724-543-8500
Web: acmh.org
HealthInsight rank: 85 of 141 Pennsylvania hospitals

Memorial Medical Center – Lee Campus (23.76 miles away)
1086 Franklin St.
Johnstown, PA 15905
Phone: 814-534-9100
Web: http://www.conemaugh.org/services/emergency-services/locations
HealthInsight rank: 91 of 141 Pennsylvania hospitals

Conemaugh Miners Medical Center (23.59 miles away)
Haida Ave
Hastings, PA 16646
Phone: 814-247-3100
Web: http://www.conemaugh.org/locations/conemaugh-miners-medical-center
HealthInsight rank: 134 of 141 Pennsylvania hospitals

 

Sidebar: For more info

For more information about this story, contact the following sources:

Stephen A. Wolfe
President and CEO
Indiana Regional Medical Center
835 Hospital Road
Indiana, PA 15701
Phone: 724-357-7000
Web: http://www.indianarmc.org/about-us/board-of-directors/

Mark Richards
Vice president of Marketing and Public Relations
Indiana Regional Medical Center
835 Hospital Road
Indiana, PA 15701
Phone: 724-357-7188
Email: mrichards@indianarmc.org
Web: http://www.indianarmc.org/about-us/board-of-directors/

Center for Health and Well-Being
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Suites on Maple East
901 Maple Street
Indiana, PA 15705
Phone: 724-357-2550
Administration: 724-357-6475
Email: health-inquiry@iup.edu
Web: http://www.iup.edu/healthservice/

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