Monday, November 22, 2010 1:51 PM

Fresno Heart & Surgical gets top marks for pain management

Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital, which has won top Patient Experience ratings three years in a row from HealthGrades®, has earned another mark of excellence from another independent agency that surveys patients about their hospital stay. NRC Picker selected the hospital for its 2010 Path to Excellence award for being ranked by patients as being in the top five on pain management.

NRC Picker measures and analyzes several important aspects that patients have identified as being most important to the quality of their care and then works with hospitals to improve their patient satisfaction. The Path to Excellence award is also given to hospitals for top scores in overall hospital experience and for communication with nurses.

“It is truly a team effort when it comes to the patient, whether it’s the care assistant or a housekeeper or even an IT employee who first encounters a patient in pain. All of them pay attention and find the appropriate staff to help that patient,” said Heather Rodriguez, director of inpatient services at Fresno Heart & Surgical. “The other piece is that our physicians are very collaborative with us. It’s really not ‘your patient’ or ‘my patient’ here. We all focus on the patient.”

Rodriguez said in staff trainings she works with nurses and other caregivers to help them learn the signs of pain, especially in stoic patients who try to tough it out. “We talk about reading the patient and looking for changes. We’re very much into heading off any extreme pain before it gets bad,” she said. “And for patients who might be very vocal, we also don’t judge. There is no interpreting the complaint. Pain is what the patient perceives. It’s very real to them.”

Jason Rau, NRC Picker president, congratulated Fresno Heart & Surgical for being among its highest performing client organizations. Earning the award indicates a strong and ongoing commitment to the practice of patient-centered care, Rau added. “The success of Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital proves it’s doing what’s best and what’s most important for its patients and their families.”

This story was reported by Erin Kennedy. She can be reached at