Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Recognizes Four Hospitals as Blue Distinction Centers

(Providence, RI, 1.29.2010)

Local healthcare facilities honored for quality standards and higher overall patient outcomes for specialty healthcare services

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) today announced that four local hospitals have been designated as Blue Distinction Centers: Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital for their spine surgery and knee and hip replacement services; and South County Hospital and Westerly Hospital for their knee and hip replacement services.

"This important, national designation recognizes the top quality orthopedic care that we provide to thousands of patients each year," said Timothy J. Babineau, MD, president and chief executive officer, Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital. "Earning Blue Distinction is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the orthopedic surgeons, doctors, nurses and staff at both hospitals."

"We are pleased to be honored as a Blue Distinction Center for knee and hip replacement," said Margaret Austin, chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services for The Westerly Hospital. "This designation demonstrates the commitment and dedication to quality care shown every day by the doctors, nurses and staff at The Westerly Hospital. It's also consistent with our goal of continuing to be recognized as a healthcare leader in our community and region."

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction program has recognized facilities that meet objective, evidence-based thresholds for clinical quality, developed in collaboration with expert physicians and medical organizations. The program provides BCBSRI members with a credible means of identifying hospitals that meet their individual healthcare needs for select procedures and conditions.

"BCBSRI is committed to working collaboratively with physicians and hospitals to raise the quality of healthcare in our state," said James E. Purcell, president and CEO of BCBSRI. "The Blue Distinction designation identifies institutions that lead the way in delivering positive outcomes, and we congratulate Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital, South County Hospital, and Westerly Hospital on their designations as providers of high-quality healthcare services."

The selection criteria used to evaluate facilities were developed with input from a panel of expert physicians. To be designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery or Knee and Hip Replacement, the following types of criteria were evaluated. More information on selection criteria is available on

  • Established acute care inpatient facility, including intensive care, emergency care, and a full range of patient support services with full accreditation by a CMS-deemed national accreditation organization
  • Experience and training of program surgeons, including case volume
  • Quality management programs, including surgical checklists as well as tracking and evaluation of clinical outcomes and process of care
  • Multi-disciplinary clinical pathways and teams to coordinate and streamline care, including transitions of care
  • Shared decision making and preoperative patient education

The Blue Distinction designation is awarded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality healthcare in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacement, spine surgery, and transplants. The program is part of The Blues® efforts to collaborate with physicians and medical facilities to improve the overall quality and safety of specialty care.

The additional Blue Distinction Centers for Spine Surgery and Knee and Hip replacement designations for the four Rhode Island hospitals will bring the nation's number of Blue Distinction designations to more than 1,600—and this number is expected to increase in the coming years.

About Rhode Island Hospital

Founded in 1863, Rhode Island Hospital is a private, 719-bed not-for-profit hospital, the largest teaching hospital of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a major trauma center for southeastern New England . Along with its pediatric division, Hasbro Children's Hospital, it is dedicated to being on the cutting edge of medicine and research and ranks among the country's leading independent hospitals that receive funding from the National Institutes of Health. Rhode Island Hospital is a founding member of the Lifespan health system.

About The Miriam Hospital

The Miriam Hospital , established in 1926 in Providence , RI , is a private, not-for-profit hospital affiliated with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a founding member of the Lifespan health system. For more information about The Miriam Hospital, please visit

About Westerly Hospital

The Westerly Hospital is a 125-bed hospital that provides Washington (RI) and New London (CT) County residents a wide array of medical, surgical, laboratory, and rehabilitative services using state-of-the-art technology in an intimate, community hospital setting. With 120 primary and specialty physicians dedicated to the patients they serve, the hospital has earned one of the highest patient satisfaction rankings in the country. From birth, through emergencies and advanced procedures, the hospital serves the entire community with family-centered medical care that's leading edge, yet respectful, compassionate, committed, and accountable to our patients.

About Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state's leading health insurer and covers more than 600,000 members. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Note: Designation as Blue Distinction Centers means these facilities' overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians' and leading professional organizations' recommendations. Individual outcomes may vary. To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan.

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