Chart toppers

 In Features, March 2016

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With more than a billion dollars worth of projects and improvements planned or underway, North Carolina’s top hospitals are looking ahead to accommodate a growing population and stay at the forefront of medical innovations. Choosing the best medical center for an important surgery or procedure can be overwhelming. Our annual list of the state’s Best Hospitals, which ranks all adult, acute-care medical centers with 50 beds or more, helps identify hospitals that excel in areas including patient satisfaction, safety, and readmission and death rates for common conditions and procedures. The list is calculated primarily by examining data from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as of December 2015, along with other criteria from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, U.S. News & World Report and The Leapfrog Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for hospital quality and safety.

1. Duke University Hospital, Durham, 957 beds.

Duke’s 201-acre main medical campus hosted 1 million outpatient visits last year, providing services ranging from MRIs to physical therapy. Doctors performed more than 40,000 surgical procedures, including more than 1,100 adult open heart surgeries and 440 organ transplants. Duke, part of a system with $3 billion in annual revenue, last year launched North Carolina’s first hand transplant program, open to adults who have lost one or both limbs below the elbow. Fewer than 20 medical centers in the U.S. perform the complex procedure. In June, Duke opened a 116,000-square-foot, $45 million expansion of its eye center to accommodate more than 15,000 additional patients annually, with services ranging from routine eye care to treatments for glaucoma, cancer and other eye diseases.

2. Mission Hospital, Asheville, 763 beds.

The flagship of the state’s sixth-largest hospital system is undertaking a $404 million construction project — one of the largest in Asheville’s history — to replace the aging former St. Joseph’s facility with a 12-story tower that will add a larger emergency department and include 220 patient rooms. The 635,000-square-foot structure, paid for partly by $203 million in taxable bonds, is expected to open in fall 2018. In September, Mission performed the first ventricular assist device implant in western N.C. The procedure allows patients with late-stage congestive heart failure to improve their quality of life and live longer, and it can serve as
a bridge to an eventual heart transplant.

3. Cone Health, Greensboro, 821 beds.

Nearly three years after opening a $200 million, six-story medical tower on its main campus, Cone has two major projects in the pipeline. The medical center is planning a $134.5 million relocation of its Women’s Hospital, which provides maternity care and houses a neonatal intensive care unit, to Cone’s main campus, about 2 miles away. Plans call for a 50,000-square-foot tower adjacent to the main hospital, with a tentative opening of 2020. The health care system also is planning a $38.5 million renovation of its operating rooms at the 175-bed Wesley Long Hospital, home to an oncology center and bariatric and orthopedic surgery centers.

(includes The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, Wesley Long Hospital and Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville)

4. UNC REX Healthcare, Raleigh, 660 beds.

Changes in executive leadership — three top officials, including former President David Strong, have departed for Orlando Health, an eight-hospital system in Florida, within the last 14 months — haven’t slowed progress of a new, 306,000-square-foot N.C. Heart & Vascular Hospital, expected to open in early 2017. Cardiac surgeries increased more than 60% from 2011 to 2014 at the hospital. The $235 million venture, funded in part by $150 million in bonds, is UNC Rex’s largest construction project since it moved to the campus on Lake Boone Trail in 1980. As of January, a community group that included the Rex Healthcare Foundation was about halfway to reaching its fundraising goal of $10 million to help support the project, which will relocate 114 beds from the main hospital.

5. (tie) CarolinaEast Medical Center, New Bern, 350 beds.

5. (tie) New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington, 769 beds.

7. WakeMed Raleigh Campus, Raleigh, 704 beds.

8. FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, Pinehurst, 486 beds.

As part of a $20.7 million project, FirstHealth is doubling the size of its orthopedic unit to 38,025 square feet, increasing its bed count from 29 to 44. Larger patient rooms will include sleeper sofas for family members and portals for nurses to perform tasks such as dropping off and collecting linens with minimal interruption. The expansion, which is being rolled out in four phases, is expected to be complete by July 2017. (includes FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital and FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham)

9. Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, 1,080 beds.

In February, Carolinas HealthCare System tapped Eugene Woods as CEO, replacing Michael Tarwater, who is retiring in June. Woods has been president and chief operating officer of Irving, Texas-based Christus Health since 2011. Tarwater has led the 39-hospital system — Carolinas Medical Center is its flagship location — since 2002 and has been an employee since 1981. In December, CHS said it plans to spend $3 billion on capital projects by 2020, including $470 million in 2016. Projects will include new buildings, services and technology. (includes Carolinas Medical Center and Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy)

10. (tie) UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill, 864 beds

UNC Health Care CEO William Roper ranked No. 14 on Modern Healthcare’s 2015 list of 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare. Roper is also dean of UNC’s School of Medicine, which has a lot at stake in this month’s election: Voters will decide on a $2 billion bond package that includes $68 million to replace Berryhill Hall, the school’s aging medical-education building. A larger, more modern facility will allow the school to increase its enrollment by nearly 30%. Another $22.6 million in philanthropic funds would help finance the project. UNC Hospitals, which partners with the medical school to train physicians, includes the original N.C. Memorial Hospital, the 86-bed Hillsborough Campus and cancer, neurosciences, women’s and children’s specialty hospitals.

10. (tie) Duke Regional Hospital, Durham, 369 beds.

12. Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Fayetteville, 600 beds.

13. (tie) Carolinas HealthCare System Pineville, Pineville, 235 beds

13. (tie) Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast, Concord, 457 beds

13. (tie) High Point Regional Health, High Point, 351 beds

13. (tie) Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, Charlotte, 597 beds

13. (tie) Vidant Medical Center, Greenville, 909 beds.

In June, Michael Waldrum became chief executive officer of Vidant Health, the medical center’s parent company. He was previously CEO of the University of Arizona Health Network. Vidant broke ground last spring on a 418,000-square-foot cancer center that will help the medical center address more than 7,500 new cases diagnosed annually in the region. The six-story tower also will add 96 beds. The $170 million project is expected to be complete in 2018.

18. Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, Winston-Salem, 971 beds. (includes Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center and Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center)

19. CaroMont Regional Medical Center, Gastonia, 435 beds

20. Frye Regional Medical Center, Hickory, 338 beds

Duke LifePoint Healthcare acquired the medical center in January, along with Central Carolina Hospital in Sanford. Both hospitals were previously owned by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. The for-profit hospital network, a joint venture of Duke University Health System Inc. and Brentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint Health, was established in 2011 and now owns 14 medical centers, including nine in North Carolina.

21. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, 885 beds.

As of January, the hospital had raised more than $222 million toward a proposed $350 million capital campaign that will help finance research projects and programs to enhance patient care. Areas of focus include cancer; aging and Alzheimer’s disease; children’s health; diabetes and obesity; and regenerative medicine. The campaign also will help pay for key construction projects, including the relocation of Wake medical school’s training campus to Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. The new campus, called the Bowman Gray Center for Medical Education, is slated to open this summer. The fundraising effort is part of the university’s “Wake Will” campaign that has a goal of raising $1 billion.

22. WakeMed Cary Hospital, Cary, 156 beds.

23. Duke Raleigh Hospital, Raleigh, 186 beds

24. Southeastern Regional Medical Center, Lumberton, 337 beds

25. Novant Health Matthews Medical Center, Matthews, 146 beds

Winston-Salem-based Novant broke ground in May on a $26 million expansion of its women’s center at the hospital in southeastern Mecklenburg County. The 26,500-square-foot addition will nearly double the size of its existing women’s center and add seven labor and delivery rooms, bringing the total to 30. The hospital completed renovations of its existing women’s center rooms in 2015, upfitting each with a guest bed, whirlpool tub and shower.


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