About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star
Geriatrics? A high-performing program? That seems odd
Two readers were puzzled by last week’s story about Mary Washington Hospital and its new ranking by U.S. News & World Report. The magazine describes the Fredericksburg hospital as the sixth-best hospital in Virginia with eight “high performing” specialties. One of those high-performing specialties is said to be geriatrics.
“Mary Washington doesn’t have a geriatrics program,” one reader noted.
Over the last several years, Mary Washington has dropped most of its geriatrics services. However, it remains a minority partner with Dantra Healthcare in the Senior Care Geriatric Medical Center in Spotsylvania. The private practice opened in 2011. Dr. Samuel Umesegha, its physician, is a fellowship-trained geriatrician who has privileges at the hospital.
On a second point, another reader wondered if a hospital could improve its ranking by purchasing one or more of the magazine’s many spin-off products. In other words, are the rankings for sale?
U.S. News says that in compiling the ratings it considers a hospital’s size, volumes, reputation among specialists, and performance on a number of federal benchmarks.
The magazine also offers a variety of ways for hospitals to spread the word if they like their ratings. Its products include purchase of a profile in the magazine’s “Best Hospitals” directory, purchase of a “Best Hospitals” badge for the hospital’s website, or purchase of reprints. The marketing program “cast a doubt on the ratings,” said the reader.
U.S. News did not respond to a request for comment. In Mary Washington’s case, participation in the U.S. News marketing program doesn’t seem to be a factor in its ranking. Debbie McInnis, hospital spokeswoman, said yesterday that Mary Washington does not purchase any of the magazine’s products.