ATLANTA – South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta has been named to the Georgia Hospital Association’s (GHA) Hospital Engagement Network (HEN) Safety Leaders Circle, which recognizes hospitals’ improvements in patient care throughout the 2012 year. SGMC is one of 11 hospitals in Georgia to place in the Chairman’s Circle, one of the highest categories on the list. SGMC is a participant in the GHA HEN, an initiative begun last year that is part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service’s (CMS) Partnership for Patients. GHA, through its Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA), is one of 27 organizations nationally to be awarded federal funding to coordinate the implementation of a series of projects with hospitals. The goals of these projects are to reduce hospital-acquired conditions (HAC) by 40 percent and hospital readmissions by 20 percent by the end of 2013. CMS states that it has the potential to save 60,000 lives annually and create $35 billion in savings to the nation’s health care system. Additionally, it can help prevent 1.8 million injuries and 1.6 million patient readmissions.To achieve these goals, there are major directives from CMS regarding improved care in 10 core measures: Four are related to hospital-acquired infections (HAI); four are related to HACs; one is related to obstetrics (OB) and trying to eliminate elective deliveries before 39 weeks; and one is related to transition of care and reduction of readmissions. As part of their participation in the GHA HEN, hospitals selected two of these areas on which to focus in 2012. Scores for the Safety Leaders Circle are based on several criteria, including a database that measures hospitals’ improvement in their respective selected areas. “Thanks to the leadership and commitment of South Georgia Medical Center, we are well on our way to achieving the significant life-saving goals of this important initiative,” said Joseph Parker, president of GHA. “We are proud to recognize the hard work of SGMC’s staff and applaud their efforts and commitment to ensuring the reduction of infections and hospital acquired conditions.”SGMC CEO Randy Sauls said this award reinforces all the hard work that is going on across the enterprise to improve healthcare quality. He said, “It is a huge honor to be recognized along with ten other Georgia hospitals for making large strides in achieving benchmarks with our core measures. The recognition is a testament to the diligent efforts of our physicians and staff.”About PHAThe Partnership for Health and Accountability, formed in January 2000 and sponsored by the Georgia Hospital Association, is a unique statewide collaborative that brings together health care providers with community agencies and individuals to achieve healthy communities. PHA includes representation from groups like hospitals, physicians, state health officials, legislators and businesses.