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Aaron Scheinblum, Communication Strategist
319-358-2627 or e-mail: aaron.scheinblum@mercyic.org

Monday, July 13, 2020 - Mercy Hospital Iowa City Earns Blue Distinction® Center+ Designation for Knee and Hip Replacement and Spinal Surgery

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has recognized Mercy Hospital Iowa City with both Blue Distinction Center+ designation for Knee and Hip Replacement and Spine Surgery as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. Blue Distinction Centers® are nationally designated providers who show expertise in delivering high quality patient safety and better health outcomes, based on objective measures that were developed with input from the medical community and leading accreditation and quality organizations.

Knee and hip replacement procedures remain some of the most commonly performed, elective surgical procedures in the U.S. according to a 2018 study released by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. In 2014, there were 370,770 total hip replacements and 680,150 total knee replacements. Facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers for Knee and Hip Replacement demonstrate expertise in total knee and total hip replacement surgeries, resulting in fewer patient complications and readmissions.

Spinal surgeries are among the most common and expensive elective surgeries in the U.S., according to the government-based Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which creates a significant opportunity to improve quality and value within the health care system. For example, there were more than 463,000 spinal fusion operations in the U.S. in 2014, and hospital costs for a fusion procedure average $28,9001, according to AHRQ. Facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers for Spine Surgery demonstrate expertise in cervical and lumbar fusion, cervical laminectomy and lumbar laminectomy/discectomy procedures, resulting in fewer patient complications and readmissions compared to other facilities.

In addition to meeting these quality thresholds, hospitals designated as Blue Distinction Centers+ are, on average, 20 percent more cost efficient in an episode of care compared to their peers. Mercy Hospital is proud to be recognized by Wellmark for meeting the robust selection criteria for knee and hip replacements and spinal surgery set by the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

“We are very pleased to again receive this acknowledgement for the quality of Mercy Iowa City’s orthopedic program in partnership with the surgeons at Steindler Orthopedic Clinic,” said Sean Williams, President and CEO. “We take great pride in our exceptional team of physicians and colleagues who, between both organizations, consistently provide excellent care that is truly life changing for patients. We are proud to work with our partners at Steindler to achieve these outcomes for the patients we both serve.”

The Blue Distinction Specialty Care program remains a trusted and valuable source for patients seeking quality care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, cellular immunotherapy, fertility care, gene therapy, knee and hip replacements, maternity care, spine surgery, substance use treatment and recovery and transplants.

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of designated facilities, visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.

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About Mercy Iowa City: Mercy Iowa City is an acute care hospital and regional referral center that draws patients from throughout southeast Iowa. For the past four years Mercy Iowa City has been awarded the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) 5 Star Rating as a Top 2% of all hospitals, the only hospital in Iowa to do so. It received the Fortune/IBM Watson Health Top 100 Hospitals recognition in 2020 and 2016, Becker’s Review Top 100 Community Hospitals Award in 2018 and 2019, the Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award for Mercy’s Emergency Care Unit by achieving 95 percent for patient experience for eleven consecutive years and the Center of Distinction Award from Healogics for Mercy’s Wound and Vein Center. Mercy has a Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, 27 primary and specialty care clinics, a medical staff of 250 physicians representing all major medical specialties and most sub-specialties and 1,400 employees. It was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1873, becoming an affiliate of MercyOne in 2017. To learn more visit www.mercyiowacity.org.

About Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Wellmark, Inc. (Wellmark.com):Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. and Wellmark Value Health Plan, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. and Wellmark Value Health Plan, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association: The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Indexsm. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit BCBS.com. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube and follow us on Twitter.

About Blue Distinction Centers: Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for providers located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan.

Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Each provider’s cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Providers in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on www.bcbs.com. Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction