Methodist ranked #1 in Northwest Indiana 

May 15

Courtesy of The Times

As part of the greater Chicago area, residents of the Calumet Region have access to some of the nation's highest-ranked hospitals. This year, US News & World Report recognized Methodist Hospitals as one of the Chicago metro area's Best Regional Hospitals.

With campuses in Gary and Merrillville, Methodist Hospitals ranked first in Northwest Indiana and 22nd in all of Chicagoland out of 121 hospitals. Methodist scored among the top 25% in five specialties - neurology and neurosurgery (brain and spinal disorders/injuries); kidney disorders; diabetes; and endocrinology (hormonal system), urology (urinary system) and gastroenterology (the digestive system).

This was the first year the publication ranked high-performing hospitals that are not necessarily affiliated with universities. The analysis was based on the ratings data from 2010-2011. To be included among the "Best Regional Hospitals" the facilities had to score in the top 25% of hospitals on at least one of the 16 specialties included in the rankings.


"We were compared with hospitals doing top-flight medical care and we scored extraordinarily well on criteria such as reputation, mortality, safety, nursing staff, technology and services offered to patients," says Dr. Michael Davenport, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer of Methodist Hospitals.

The top five hospitals in this survey were Northwestern, University of Chicago, Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke, Loyola and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. To be ranked with these world-renowned medical centers shows the high level of service Methodist provides, Davenport says.

"We provide a complex level of service to so many patients. Our volume of patient is very high. We take all comers with no discrimination against the ability to pay. Our patients tend to be sicker, yet they experience good outcomes," he says.

One consideration in the rankings is the severity of those illnesses and injuries experienced by patients and the population served. The hospital locations in Gary and Merrillville put the facilities at the epicenter of industry, highways and an urban environment, Davenport says.

"It's based on the population you serve. We've been recognized for lower mortality than expected," he says. "We have so many patients who are so sick, and we get more trauma here than most other hospitals."

That experience with very sick and injured patients gives physicians and staff at Methodist even more expertise, Davenport says.

"Methodist has always offered procedures such as open heart surgery, brain surgery and oncology. We have the experience to care for patients who might otherwise have to be referred out of the area. This is much better for the patient and family to be close," he says.

Davenport says he's impressed with the commitment of hospital administration, personnel and the medical staff to continually improve the care offered to inpatients and outpatients.

Another commitment being made by Methodist Hospitals is to train future physicians, he says. In 2012, the hospital will re-open its family medicine residency program in affiliation with the Indiana University School of Medicine at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.



Merrillville-Methodist Southlake Gamma Knife. (L to R) Dr. Hytham Riafai Neurosurgeon and Billie Childress, RN,BSN,CNRN,MSCN with a patient.

Scoring among the top centers for neurology and neurosurgery in the Chicagoland area is not by chance, says Dr. Hythem Rifai, medical director of the Methodist Hospitals NeuroScience Institute.

"This is part of a process of many, many years. Over the years, we have been able to keep a strong neuro-nursing team who know how to handle patients with brain and spinal problems," Rifai says.

In addition, Methodist uses the most technologically advanced equipment to diagnose and treat brain and spinal injuries and illnesses.

The Gamma Knife, for example, focuses 201 beams of radiation to a single point in the brain to treat metastatic brain tumors, vascular malformations and other lesions of the brain, such as trigeminal neuralgia. That precision helps concentrate treatment to just the affected area without damaging nearby cells or structures. It's especially beneficial for those patients whose tumors or other malformations are in areas too sensitive for surgery. This procedure is bloodless and done on an outpatient basis.

Another piece of technology is the bi-plane imaging system. Methodist is the first and only hospital in Northwest Indiana to offer this state-of-the-art imaging equipment for neurology and neurosurgery, Rifai says.

"We can see a 3-D image of the vessels without having to do surgery. It's like looking at it with the naked eye. We can see exactly where a catheter is placed in the blood vessel and view it from every angle," the physician says. And we have recruited the best in the field to work with this technology, such as Dr Mayumi Oka, who came to us from Johns Hopkins.

The bi-plane equipment also provides an additional four hours of treatment window for stroke patients. Most hospitals are able to administer a clot-busting drug tPA within four hours after stroke symptoms start or the drug isn't considered effective.

By using the bi-plane imaging equipment and a catheter threaded into the clogged artery, physicians can extend the treatment window to eight hours. That's important, he says, because not all those experiencing this brain attack reach a hospital in time to prevent the debilitating effects of a stroke.

"Methodist Hospitals was the first to obtain stroke certification from the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP)," Rifai says.

Neurology care at Methodist Hospitals also extends to the care of patients with multiple sclerosis. Dr. Mridula Prasad, a renowned neurologist, is a champion in this field and has lent her expertise to this facility.



In 1980, Dr. David Ashbach came to Methodist Hospitals to set up its center for renal or kidney care. The nephrologist continues to direct the program which provides all levels of care with the exception of kidney transplants.

"We do hemo- and peritoneal dialysis on an inpatient and outpatient basis. Our patients don't have to travel long distances to receive their dialysis," Ashbach says. "It adds to their quality of life. It's very difficult to go three times a week to dialysis. And if they get sick, they have a hospital right here."

Patients who receive dialysis need to have an access to the bloodstream for the dialysis process. Methodist has all the latest techniques for introducing and maintaining that access, he says.

Diagnosing why a patient's kidneys are not working properly is also a major part of this highly-recognized program at Methodist.

Among the programs Methodist offers are kidney stone management; treatment of hypertension; management of fluid build-up, edema, and electrolyte imbalances, as well as treatment of inflammatory kidney diseases and systemic problems such as lupus and diabetes. "For all these problems, Methodist is capable of managing patients locally without referring them to a university," Ashbach says.

When illness or injury unrelated to kidney problems arise, patients at Methodist are assured that their dialysis treatments will continue as scheduled. "For critically ill patients with a loss of kidney function, we have the latest forms of hemo-filtration available in the Intensive Care Unit," he says.

Diabetes is often the cause of kidney failure, and diabetic care is another area of excellence at Methodist Hospitals.M

Merrillville-Methodist Southlake .The Diabetes Center. Kristina Greene, RD,MS,CD. Taking a blood sugar reading.

"Fifty-one percent of our patients who are on dialysis have diabetes," Ashbach says. "Although diabetes is more prevalent in African-American and Hispanic populations, it has become epidemic in all ethnic groups and is closely related to obesity."

The Diabetes Education Program at Methodist includes a clinical nurse specialist who helps take care of patients on an outpatient basis. The team also helps manage the condition and its complications when the patient is sick with any other medical problem, he says.

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