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St. Mary Earns Quality Recognition from Independence Blue Cross for Knee and Hip Replacement
St. Mary designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip ReplacementSM

LANGHORNE, PA., February 8, 2010 – Independence Blue Cross has designated St. Mary Medical Center as a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This specialty designation is part of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association’s expansion of its Blue Distinction® designation. The Blue Distinction puts a high value on research and evidence-based health and medical information, which, along with compassion, safety and quality, are the hallmarks of clinical care at St. Mary.

Allan Korn, MD, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Chief Medical Officer says, “Blue Distinction Centers show our commitment to working with doctors and hospitals in communities across the country to identify leading institutions that meet clinically validated quality standards and deliver better overall outcomes in patient care.”

The St. Mary Center for Joint Replacement offers comprehensive and integrated services for total hip and knee replacement surgery. Also, with being the first in Pennsylvania to earn Joint Commission-certification for Hip and Knee Joint Replacement, St. Mary has proven a commitment to quality and safety that demonstrates its joint-replacement program meets or exceeds national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes for joint-replacement patients. Comprehensive patient care includes using the latest joint implants and devices, along with advanced surgical techniques; providing daily targeted outcomes; and having dedicated orthopedic operating rooms with highly trained staff, patient care manager, discharge planner, physical and occupational therapists, and pain management specialists. This highly integrated model results in low complication rates following surgery and less time spent in the hospital. The majority of patients return home two to three days after surgery. Dedicated therapists work with all joint-replacement patients as a part of post-operative recovery. After leaving the hospital, patients may continue with in-home physical therapy.

George Cautilli, MD, Medical Director for the Center for Joint Replacement at St. Mary notes that joint replacement significantly improves the quality of life for patients – right in their own back yard. “It’s important for patients to know that the Center for Joint Replacement is exceptional. Based right here in our community, we provide top-quality care, and this quality recognition from Independence Blue Cross and the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association demonstrates to patients continued proof of our high-level performance and standards of care.”

“Knee and hip replacements are proven methods of alleviating pain and restoring function and mobility," said Dr. Richard Snyder, chief medical officer at Independence Blue Cross."However, the care that patients receive can vary, which is why a program like Blue Distinction that advocates best practices for high quality and identifies facilities that meet those standards of care is so important."

To be designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement, the following selection criteria were developed with input from a panel of expert physicians.

· 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 · Multidisciplinary clinical pathways and teams to coordinate and streamline care, including transitions of care · Shared decision making and preoperative patient education

Previously established Blue Distinction programs focus on cardiac care, bariatric surgery, transplants, and complex and rare cancers. In early 2010, the Blue Distinction program was expanded to include the Blue Distinction Centers for Knee and Hip ReplacementSM, and the Blue Distinction Centers for Spine SurgerySM. 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. More information is available at www.bcbs.com.

About St. Mary Medical Center Licensed for 366 beds, St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, is the most comprehensive medical center in the area. Its compassionate staff of more than 600 physicians, 2,400 colleagues, and 800 volunteers is committed to providing excellence in patient safety and quality care. St. Mary offers state-of-the-art technology and highly skilled physicians and clinical professionals in providing advanced care for complex cases. Services include a comprehensive cardiovascular program; the only state-accredited Trauma Center in Bucks County; Emergency Services with a dedicated Pediatric Emergency Care Center; a Joint Commission-certified Primary Stroke Center; specialized diagnostic imaging; obstetrics and NICU; a Joint Commission-certified joint replacement program; exceptional orthopedic surgical capabilities and rehabilitation; a Joint Commission-certified sleep disorders center, pain management and wound healing centers; the St. Mary Breast Center; and the St. Mary Regional Cancer Center. St. Mary’s outreach to the poor and underserved includes its Community Ministries in Bensalem – the Mother Bachmann Maternity Center, Children’s Health Center and Family Resource Center – as well as ongoing support for the Adult Health Clinic operated by the Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership.

About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Independence Blue Cross supports comprehensive health care reform that would extend coverage to all Americans, reduce costs, and improve quality. We also advocate reform that builds on the current employer-based system that currently serves 170 million Americans. Learn more about our views on health care legislation now working its way through Congress by visiting our website.

Independence Blue Cross 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 a specific policy at any facilities, people are advised to call their local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan administrator.

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