Top Hospital In Arizona

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Payson Regional Medical Center this week was named one of the top 100 hospitals in the country — the only facility in Arizona to win that impressive honor.

The rating underscores the tremendous service the medical center and its staff provide to this community — despite the serious challenges they face in troubled times.

The consulting firm Thomson Reuters evaluated 3,000 hospitals to winnow out its top 100 — with separate categories for big, urban, teaching hospitals, large community hospitals, medium community hospitals and small community hospitals — Payson Regional’s category.

The ratings focused mostly on the quality of care the hospitals provided, although the rating system included things like profitability and patient ratings. Most of the numbers came from the massive national data base on patient care maintained by Medicare.

The team of doctors and medical experts took into account the seriousness of the patients’ conditions, case mix, and risk factors. Once they took into account those factors, the ratings compared hospitals on things like average length of stay, mortality rates, readmission rates and the rate at which patients developed complications.

The study concluded that if all of the nation’s hospitals did as well as the 100 hospitals that made the list, it would avert 116,000 deaths annually, cut the average length of stay in half, avoid 197,000 complications and save $462 on each patient.

The ratings brought the medical center a welcome flush of good news, in the midst of crisis and anxiety. The hospital has struggled to care for the people in this community in the face of rising unemployment rates and the state’s desperate efforts to cut the cost of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, which provides care for about 30 percent of county residents. The state has squeezed payments to hospitals and cut thousands of people from the rolls. When those uninsured people show up in the emergency room — the hospital treats them and worries about the bill later.

But never mind that now. For today at least, the doctors, nurses and other staff at the best darn hospital in Arizona can bask in this honor.

ASU campus bill will reassure the skeptics

The visionary quest to build a college campus in Payson has in these past two frustrating years spawned two sorts of skeptics.

One group figures it’s all a scam. All too good to be true, they grouse. You can’t build a $500 million cluster of dorms, classrooms, convention hotels and research firms for nothing. Taxpayers will end up getting fleeced.

The other group figures it’s just all gone on too long. Must be scam, they grouse — or someone would have fired up a bulldozer by now and gotten to work.

But passage of SB 1997 by the full Senate and the key House Higher Education Committee has provided a partial rebuttal to both those complaints. Moreover, the politically astute effort to get SB 1997 through a Legislature beset by crisis speaks to the tenacity of the plan’s supporters — and the bewildering number of moving parts.

SB 1997 makes small but vital changes in state law regulating the formation of Separate Legal Entities, until now used mostly by cities and towns to create various kinds of special districts. SB 1997 for the first time makes it clear that universities can also enter into agreements that result in the formation of these specialized districts.

Payson went through the great effort of seeking this legislation in large measure to insulate local taxpayers from any liability in case the whole project collapses. The town intends to form a Separate Legal Entity that will encompass the roughly 300-acre campus. That entity can then sign contracts with ASU, a hotel chain, builders of a solar cell assembly plant, businesses in a research park and investors who plan to build a $65 million solar cell power generating project.

If something goes wrong, bondholders and investors must deal with the SLE and cannot bring suit against Payson or ASU for that matter. Meanwhile, the SLE can float its own bonds and impose taxes on businesses and property within the district only — without having any impact on the bond ratings of either Payson or ASU.

SB 1997 struggled through the state Senate and now has gotten the unanimous support of the House Higher Education Committee — suggesting likely passage when it hits the floor of the House.

So the skeptics can now cite this bill as proof of the diligent effort to protect Payson taxpayers — and a partial indication of the complexity of the task that has forced so many frustrating delays.

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