Bridgton and Franklin Memorial hospitals were among seven in Maine named Top Rural Hospitals on Thursday by the Leapfrog Group.

The distinction is a welcome turn-around for Franklin Memorial. A year ago, Leapfrog graded it as one of the worst hospitals in the state. Over the course of one year, the Farmington hospital improved from worst to among the best.

“We are deeply honored to be one of 18 rural hospitals recognized nationwide by this award, which underscores our organizational effort and collective commitment of our staff, physicians, and hospital leadership to the highest standards of care,” said Miriam Leonard, Franklin Memorial Hospital chief operating officer.

“We leverage ratings such as these as a tool to continually improve,” Leonard said. “This recognition together with our October ‘A’ recognition, also from The Leapfrog Group, demonstrates that we’re making great advances in providing the highest quality of care to the residents and visitors of Greater Franklin County.”

For Bridgton Hospital, the award is significant because it’s the second time it has been named among the best in Maine.

“This prestigious recognition is really a tribute to the positive and dedicated efforts of the Bridgton Hospital medical staff to provide top-quality care for our patients every day of the year,” said hospital President David Frum. “As a community hospital, we take pride in the care our family, friends and neighbors receive, and it’s an honor to be recognized by Leapfrog for our work.”

Leapfrog, founded in 2000, announced a variety of hospital rankings Thursday, including Top General Hospitals, Top Teaching Hospitals and Top Children’s Hospitals.

Although no Maine hospital appeared in those lists, the impressive showing in the Top Rural Hospitals list pleased the medical industry here.

“We are very proud of our rural hospitals for being such outstanding leaders on quality and transparency,” said Peter Hayes, president and CEO of the Maine Health Management Coalition. “Maine brought home seven of the 18 total rural hospital awards in the country, and I think it speaks to how dedicated our health care leaders are to making sure we have safe, patient-centered care for our citizens.”

According to The Leapfrog Group, performance across many areas of hospital care is considered in establishing the qualifications for the award, including infection rates, maternity care, and the hospital’s capacity to prevent medication errors. The rigorous standards are defined in each year’s Top Hospital Methodology.

“Leapfrog Top Hospitals are the nation’s role models for putting patients first,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group.

This year, Leapfrog recognized 109 Top Hospitals across the country. Of those, 10 were Top Children’s Hospitals, 45 Top General Hospitals, 18 Top Rural Hospitals, and 36 Top Teaching Hospitals. Maine’s other Top Rural Hospitals are:

• The Aroostook Medical Center, Presque Isle;

• Inland Hospital, Waterville;

• Blue Hill Memorial Hospital;

• LincolnHealth, Damariscotta;

• Down East Community Hospital, Machias.

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