Tuesday, January 24, 2012

OMHS earns 'Distinguished' mark

By Rich Suwanski, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 12:07 AM CST

Owensboro Medical Health System received HealthGrades’ Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award for 2012 on Monday, marking the fourth consecutive year the hospital received the designation.

The award put OMHS among the top 5 percent of more than 5,000 nonfederal hospitals nationwide for clinical performance. OMHS and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood were the only two Kentucky hospitals receiving the award, putting them among 263 top-performing hospitals.

“I’m very pleased that our quality continues to improve because every other hospital, hopefully, has quality that’s improving,” said Dr. Catharine Schmitt, an OB/GYN and chair of the Medical Staff Quality Committee at OMHS. “With the new legislation that hospitals will be paid for performance rather that just billing and getting paid, it is really important for us to improve our quality.”

HealthGrades is a source of health care provider information. HealthGrades evaluates each of the nation’s 5,000 nonfederal hospitals in 26 procedures and diagnoses. HealthGrades hospital quality distinctions are independently created, and no hospital can opt-in or opt-out of evaluation. No hospital pays to be evaluated.

Mortality and complication rates are risk-adjusted, which takes into account differing levels of severity of patient illness at different hospitals, allowing for hospitals to be compared equally. The report is available online at www.healthgrades.com.

OMHS received five-star ratings in the following categories for patients while in the hospital: Back and neck surgery (except spinal fusion), gastrointestinal bleed, heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, respiratory failure, sepsis, stroke and total knee replacement.

Five stars means the better-than-expected outcomes.

OMHS was rated first among Kentucky hospitals for cardiac care, critical care, cardiology, coronary interventional procedures, joint replacement surgery, treatment of gastrointestinal issues, neurosciences and stroke care.

“The most improvement has been in acute heart attack and stroke care,” Schmitt said. “We get people from the door to the emergency room, to the (cardiac catheterization) lab to have a patient’s vessels evaluated and treated much faster (64 minutes) than the national (recommended) average (90 minutes).

“The faster you get them there to prevent permanent damage, the better the results.”

Schmitt said OMHS was also “doing great work” with back and neck surgery.

“It only takes one or two problems in a patient not to get the award,” she said. “So it’s not that we’re home free in any area.

“We have a quality department and peer review committee that look at multiple things. If anything (surfaces) as not being at the best standard of care, we review it so that we can see if there’s a problem with the process, the physicians or the nursing, and find trends before they become problems.”

Unlike other hospital quality studies, HealthGrades evaluates hospitals solely on clinical outcomes: risk-adjusted mortality and in-hospital complications. HealthGrades’ analysis is based on about 40 million Medicare discharges for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“We’ve done this for four years in a row now, which shows that we have excellent quality,” Schmitt said. “It tells people that this is a very safe place to come to, and that the doctors, staff and administration are all working hard to continually improve quality.

“If we do that, it lowers mortality and lowers complication rates and gets people home faster and, hopefully, keeps them home.”

There is an another award OMHS has its sights set on, and that’s becoming one of the top 1 percent of hospitals, which means it must earn the distinguished designation for seven consecutive years.

“It’s a great goal to say we’re one of the top 50 hospitals in the country,” Schmitt said.

Rich Suwanski, 691-7315, or rsuwanski@messenger-inquirer.com

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Owensboro -Daviess County one step closer to Work Ready designation

The Work Ready Review Panel gave the Daviess County Work Ready application a favorable recommendation to the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (K-WIB) for certification as a Work Ready Community.

Community representatives, including Judge Executive Al Mattingly, Co-Chair Helen Mountjoy and EDC president Nick Brake made a presentation to the panel yesterday. The presentation was supported by representatives from the education, workforce, Chamber and business community.

The final hurdle will be consideration by the K-WIB for actual certification on February 16 in Frankfort.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Local officials to attend I-67 meeting

12 Jan 2012 — Messenger-Inquirer

BY: By Steve Vied

Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly plan to attend today's inaugural meeting of the I-67 Development Corporation Board of Directors, scheduled for 10 a.m. in Huntingburg, Ind., for what could be the beginning of finally putting Owensboro-Daviess County on a true interstate highway.

The I-67 group's goal is the completion of a 38-mile, four-lane interstate highway connecting U.S. 231/I-64 at Dale, Ind., to the proposed I-69 at Washington, Ind., said I-67 board of directors member Hank Menke, president of furniture maker OFS Brands of Huntingburg.

If that new road through Dubois and Daviess counties in Indiana gets built, it would create a continuous four-lane interstate highway running from Washington, Ind., through Owensboro and continuing to Bowling Green by making use of the four-lane U.S. 231, the William H. Natcher Bridge over the Ohio River at Maceo and the William H. Natcher Parkway through Daviess, Ohio, Butler and Warren counties, where it would connect with I-65.

That new route would be named I-67, an idea that excites Payne, who said he has accepted the invitation to be a member of the organization and was looking forward to today's meeting in Huntingburg.

"We're going to try and work with them to see if we can make this happen," Payne said. "I'm really excited about the opportunity. ... It would be one of the biggest things to ever happen to our community to have a interstate run though it."

Mattingly is also a member of the new board, which Menke said will act to continue the work that culminated with the four-laning of U.S. 231 from the Natcher Bridge to I-64. That 22-mile section of road opened last year after nearly 30 years of pushing by Indiana and Kentucky supporters. But there are no plans to continue four-laning U.S. 231 north of I-64, Menke said.

Building an all-new route from Dale to Washington would save his company and others hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, Menke said. He did not say when the project might be completed.

"Basically what I'm trying to do is continue the work started by William Natcher and Bill Koch and get that road up through Dubois County and to Washington," Menke said. "We have this beautiful new road (U.S. 231). Kentucky put in $130 million and Indiana put in $160 million. I say take the road from Bowling Green and Owensboro to I-69. It would greatly benefit Owensboro."

Koch, the founder of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Natcher span and the four-laning of U.S. 231 in Spencer County. He died in 2001.

Menke said I-67 could provide a valuable alternative to I-65 through Louisville, where the closure of the (I-64) Sherman Minton Bridge is causing headaches for businesses and travelers. Menke said his company's 175 tractor-trailer rigs need a better north-south route.

"We have a real problem with traffic in Louisville," he said.

Building the Dubois-Daviess county route could cost $500 million or more, Menke said. But Indiana has already spent $7 million on an environmental study. And Menke said he has raised most of the $250,000 from private and public sources for a scoping study .

"I'm trying to take advantage of what's already been done," he said. "We know that state and federal money has dried up, so it could be a toll road."

Mattingly said the project has merit because it creates a new interstate using existing highways and bridges.

"We've already got a bridge across the Ohio River and we will have the (former U.S. 60) bypass extension," Mattingly said. "It won't compete with I-69. It's just an alternate to I-65. The real problem is in Louisville. Think of the trouble we're having with the I-64 bridge. If we are successful in convincing them to build an I-67 path, it would be a tremendous boon to the economy for this community and southern Indiana."

In addition to Menke, Payne and Mattingly, the I-67 board includes the mayors of Huntingburg, Jasper and Washington and representatives of several southern Indiana businesses. Four Indiana elected leaders will serve as advisors to the group.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Angel investment tax credit bill will help Owensboro

This year, once again, legislation has been prefiled that would establish an angel investor tax credit program for individuals who invest in certain small businesses.

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. has supported the legislation in years past, and EDC officials are hoping the bill will gain traction this year. It could help Owensboro’s efforts to nurture and retain high tech and life sciences start-up companies that require a lot of capital on the front end, local EDC officials said.

“We’ve been supportive of this for several years,” said Madison Silvert, vice president for entrepreneurship and high tech development at the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. “It would provide incentives for qualified investors to invest in Kentucky start-up companies.”

The state incentives already are available for groups such as Lexington’s Blue Angels and Louisville’s Enterprise Angels and Louisville Angels.

This legislation, however, would provide the same incentives to individuals, and that is important for Owensboro and more rural areas of the state where there are no groups in place, Silvert said.

Generally, angel investors supply venture capital to companies that show high-growth prospects or fit well with their own business or are competing in the sector in which they made their mark.

In recent months, Daviess County showed up at No. 9 among 20 counties nationwide on web magazine BusinessInsider.com’s list of counties identified as potentially the next Silicon Valley.

Two areas the online magazine found in fleshing out the counties were broadband availability rates near 100 percent and unemployment rates beating their peers and the nation.

Silvert said recently that having a culture of entrepreneurial investment is a crucial next step for the Owensboro region in attracting and retaining high tech companies.

The EDC and its partners are providing some breaks for several high tech and life sciences companies within the framework of Emerging Ventures, an innovation center/business incubator and the office and lab space offered in the Centre for Business and Research at 1010 Allen St.

“What we hope people understand is that high tech and life sciences companies require large amounts of capital for start-up, but the jobs they create are high quality and high paying,” Silvert said. “And it’s cheaper to incentivize these companies at the start than to try to relocate a mature company.”

The legislation is important for Owensboro, said Nick Brake, the president of the Greater Owensboro EDC.

“We have a healthy interest in the high tech, biotech and food safety companies we have churning here, and this legislation could turn that interest into investment,” Brake said. “It’s a matter of legislators seeing this as a viable option.”

Brake said he thinks getting a bill passed for angel investor tax credits is a learning process to educate people about how it can help.

Rep. Arnold Simpson’s legislation is prefiled as BR322. If it is filed when the Kentucky General Assembly convenes and becomes law, it would direct the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority to establish the application process for small businesses to participate.Angel investors who qualified could tap into the Kentucky Investment Fund Act tax credits that would be capped at $40 million.Simpson is a Covington Democrat.

The KEDFA would have to maintain a website listing all businesses and investors and the tax credits awarded. The prefiled bill also would require the small businesses to provide an annual report, and it would allow for tax credit recapture under some circumstances.

Joy Campbell, 691-7299, jcampbell@messenger-inquirer.com