River Hospital ranked among top 100 critical access hospitals in U.S.

River Hospital in Alexandria Bay. Photo courtesy of BCA Architects & Engineers/Revette Studio

ALEXANDRIA BAY — For the first time, River Hospital has been recognized as a 2021 Top 100 Critical Access Hospital by The Chartis Center for Rural Health, and was the only New York hospital to be included.

The 11th annual recognition program honors outstanding performance among the nation’s rural hospitals based on the results of the Hospital Strength Index. Based entirely on publicly available data, the index is the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance.

These top performers, excelling in managing risk, achieving higher quality, securing better outcomes, increasing patient satisfaction and operating at a lower cost than their peers are meant to serve as a benchmark for other rural facilities as they strive to achieve similar results and provide a blueprint for successfully navigating the uncertainty of the new health care.

“Earning this distinction is really a testament to the incredible care provided by the entire River Hospital team,” said Emily E. Mastaler, chief executive officer at River Hospital. “Their dedication is truly unwavering and to have it recognized on a national level is really remarkable.”

River Hospital has been ranked in the 99th percentile among the more than 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals in the United States. Of the 18 Critical Access Hospitals in New York state, River Hospital is the only one on the list from New York.

“To us, the importance of the hospital strength index, it really looks to understand the strength and sustainability of rural health care,” Ms. Mastaler said. “Knowing that rural hospitals are at incredible risk, threatened with closures every day throughout the country, especially during the pandemic, a study like this that understands the elements that contribute to the preservation and sustainability of rural healthcare, by focusing on those core measures like patient experience and quality of care, affordability, and financial sustainability, is critical.”

Hospitals must meet the following conditions to obtain Critical Access Hospital designation: have 25 or fewer acute care inpatient beds; be located more than 35 miles from another hospital; maintain an annual average length of stay of 96 hours or less for acute care patients; and provide 24/7 emergency care services.

“We’re just so honored to have our performance recognized in this way because it highlights our hospital’s deep and abiding understanding of and commitment to sustaining seamless access to exceptional and affordable health care close to home,” Ms. Mastaler said.

River Hospital was ranked highest in care quality, patient perspective and financial categories at the 89th, 95th and 96th percentiles, respectively.

According to Ms. Mastaler, those at River Hospital do not know exactly where performance has changed in past years to gain the recognition this year, but she does know the hospital landed in the overall 99th percentile. It’s unclear where the hospital landed in years prior when compared to others across the country.

“Making sure that these areas of focus are really studied so that hospitals and rural health systems can continue to persevere is incredibly important,” Ms. Mastaler said. “River Hospital has been focusing on these particular areas of performance for years, so it’s nice to see that the efforts that folks have made over the many years of service are being recognized in this way. It very much aligns with the efforts that are made to sustain rural health care on a daily basis here in the north country.”

More information on the Top 100, The Chartis Group and the Index can be found at www.ivantageindex.com/ccrh.

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