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French Hospital in rarefied air with Leapfrog, CMS honors

French Hospital only hospital in state to earn 24 straight Leapfrog ‘A’s’ while also earning Five Star Rating from CMS

Earning a single ‘A’ grade in Hospital Safety from The Leapfrog Group is worth celebrating. 

What do you do after earning 24 consecutive ‘A’ grades from Leapfrog? 

At French Hospital Medical Center, you start working towards No. 25. 

On Nov. 6, The Leapfrog Group announced that French Hospital earned its 24 straight ‘A,’ meaning the hospital has earned the gold standard in the group’s Hospital Safety scoring every grading cycle from 2012 to 2023. 

Of course, that’s a notable distinction. However, it’s only half the story. 

In July, French Hospital Medical Center earned a Five Star Rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

That makes French Hospital the only hospital in the state of California to hold both distinctions. In fact, French is one of 10 in the entire country to have earned 24 straight ‘A’ grades while also earning a Five Star Rating from CMS.

“Being the only California hospital and one of only 10 hospitals in the nation which have achieved 24 consecutive Leapfrog straight ‘A’ grades combined with a Five Star CMS rating is a tremendous validation of the excellent quality care delivered by the staff and physicians of French Hospital Medical Center;” said Patrick Caster, President and Chief Executive Officer.

“These respected third-party designations confirm the position of French Hospital as the Central Coast’s high-quality health care leader.”

The Leapfrog Group assigns letter grades (A, B, C, D , F) to all general hospitals across the country (approximately 3,000) based on more than 30 national performance measures reflecting errors, accidents, injuries and infections - as well as the systems hospitals have in place to prevent harm.

Only 18 hospitals in the country have earned 24 straight ‘A’ grades from the Leapfrog Group and French Hospital is one of only two in California to earn straight ‘A’s.’

“Twenty-four ‘A’s’ in a row is a validation of the consistency of the quality, safety and patient experience here at French Hospital,” said Julia Fogelson, the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Executive at FHMC. “It takes the entire hospital team to make this happen.”

“This is a huge effort on everyone’s part,” said Dr. Thomas Vendegna, the Chief Medical Officer at FHMC. “To imagine that there are 3,000 hospitals in the United States that compete for Leapfrog ‘A’ grades and we have earned an ‘A’ 24 consecutive times since 2012 – that is amazing.”

CMS annually reviews and assigns star ratings for hospitals (1 through 5 stars) across the country based on their performance of five quality categories including mortality, safety of care, readmission, patient experience and timely and effective care. 

The overall rating indicates how well each hospital performed on an identified set of quality measures compared to other hospitals in the U.S. Five stars is the highest quality measure.

Only about 10% of hospitals in the nation earned a Five Star Rating from CMS. 

French Hospital is also the only hospital in San Luis Obispo County to earn a Five Star Rating from CMS.

“I would like to thank all of the dedicated caregivers and support staff for their dedication in providing superior quality health care to the communities of the Central Coast,” Caster said.

To learn more about French Hospital Medical Center, please visit