Advantage Goes To Saints

March 28, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Advantage Health, a physicians group affiliated with Saint Mary’s Health Care, has received the Governor’s Award for Excellence for the second year in a row.

The award honors providers for improving the care of Medicare patients in the areas of diabetes screening, adult immunizations and mammography screening for breast cancer.

“This award is extremely important to me as I firmly believe that every person deserves to receive quality health care from their physicians,” said Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Physicians from 21 Advantage Health and Saint Mary’s primary care sites and clinics were honored for improving preventive care in the ambulatory care setting. All totaled, 71 doctors from Advantage received the distinguished honor, of 198 doctors who were named statewide.

“Last year, 57 of our Advantage Health physicians won this award out of 165. This year, 71 have won it,” said Micki Benz, vice president of community development for Saint Mary’s Health Care.

Benz told the Business Journal that 44 physicians went to Lansing last week to take part in the awards ceremony and to conduct a seminar on best practices for diabetes.

“So when we talk about growing our primary-care physicians network, this is the manifestation of our effort — in getting these kinds of awards, in getting these kinds of outcomes,” said Phil McCorkle, Saint Mary’s president and CEO.

“Insurance companies have recognized the Advantage Health physicians as having some of the best practices. Preferred Health has. Blue Cross Blue Shield has. They’re doing very well and we’re very proud of them,” he added.

David Blair, Advantage Health Physicians president and chief medical officer, said the award for excellence underscores his group’s commitment to providing quality patient care, and serves as a reminder to patients that their health is the group’s top priority.

The Michigan Peer Review Organization and Granholm sponsor the Governor’s Award of Excellence. The award, established in 2000, has a goal of improving the long-term health of residents in the state by focusing on preventive strategies, which, in turn, could lower the overall cost of health care.

“Prevention and early diagnosis is the key to good health,” said Debra Moss, president and CEO of MPRO. “Preventive care is an investment in our health that we cannot afford to neglect.”

Electronic health records and chronic care are new categories that will be added to the award next year.

“Electronic health records are the wave of the future,” said Granholm. “I encourage physicians to explore this new technology to improve patient care, management and safety.”

Nine Metro Health clinics also received the award last week.

Member physicians and Saint Mary’s own Advantage Health Physicians, which serves over 200,000 patients at 13 primary care offices in Kent and Ottawa counties. Last year, 17 Advantage Health offices received the Governor’s Award of Excellence.

“Our mission statement is to improve the health status of the community,” said McCorkle. “This truly is improving the health status of the community because we’re improving the health status of all the people we serve.”    

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