Surgical Patients in Good Hands

Citrus Memorial Health System released today that it has been recognized by Healthgrades as one of America’s 50 best hospitals for cardiac surgery and one of America’s 100 best hospitals for spine surgery. Healthgrades evaluated nearly 4,500 hospitals nationwide for 33 of the most common inpatient procedures and conditions and identified the best performing hospitals within each procedure.

The achievements are part of findings released today online and in the Healthgrades 2015 Report to the Nation, which demonstrates how clinical performance differs dramatically between hospitals and the impact that this variation may have on health outcomes and organizational costs. For example, from 2011-2013, if all hospitals as a group performed similarly to hospitals receiving 5-stars as a group, on average 228,426 lives could potentially have been saved and 169,298 complications could potentially have been avoided.*

Citrus Memorial not only performs at a 5-star level – it outperforms other hospitals in the nation in both cardiac and spine surgery, and as a result has been recognized with the 2015 Healthgrades Cardiac Surgery Excellence and Spine Surgery Excellence awards.

In Florida alone, 159 hospitals were analyzed in Orthopedics.  Many have high quality, but only one stands out for its consecutive years of nationally recognized outcomes. Citrus Memorial is the only hospital in Florida to be a recipient of the Healthgrades Spine Surgery Excellence Award for 8 years in a row (2008-2015) and, in addition, is the only hospital in Florida to be named among the top 10% in the nation for Spine Surgery for 10 years in a row (2006-2015).

“As Americans take increasing responsibility when it comes to their health, it is more important than ever for consumers to access objective measures of quality when selecting a physician and hospital,” said Evan Marks, Chief Strategy Officer, Healthgrades. “Consumers who select a physician associated with a hospital with Healthgrades’ 5-star performance in a specific procedure or condition can potentially improve their health outcomes and reduce costs.”

For its analysis, Healthgrades evaluated approximately 40 million Medicare-patient records for nearly 4,500 short-term acute care hospitals nationwide, assessing hospital performance relative to each of 33 common conditions and procedures. Healthgrades recognizes a hospital’s quality achievements for cohort-specific performance, specialty area performance, and overall clinical quality. Individual procedure or condition cohorts are designated as 5-star (statistically better than expected), 3-star (statistically as expected) and 1-star (statistically worse than expected) categories. Detailed performance information, such as cohort-specific outcomes data and quality achievements, as well as more information on the Healthgrades 2015 Report to t Nation, including the complete methodology, can be found at


HG_Americas_100_Best_Spine_Surgery_Award_Image_2015 HG_Americas_50_Best_Cardiac_Surgery_Award_Image_2015

Citrus Seeks Volunteers

The Citrus Memorial Auxiliary is seeking new volunteers for both Citrus Memorial Healthcare Center at Sugarmill Woods and Citrus Memorial Healthcare Center at Allen Ridge. Available positions include:

  •  Information Desk volunteer who performs tasks such as answering phones and greeting patients. These volunteers have basic knowledge of computers and clerical skills.
  • Host or Hostess volunteer who greets patients and their families. These volunteers are caring and compassionate individuals who make visitors feel welcome.

Volunteers serve one four hour shift each week and are provided with training, uniforms and a free lunch per shift. For more information on volunteering at Citrus Memorial call Penny Zaphel at (352) 560-6298.

Apply Now!

Citrus Implants MRI-Friendly Pacemaker

Citrus Memorial Health System today announced that hospital physicians successfully completed their first implant of a pacemaker system that is FDA-approved for use with MRI scans. The device, the Entovis ProMRI pacing system developed by BIOTRONIK, is one of the first pacemakers in the US with MR-conditional labeling, meaning that it has been demonstrated to pose no hazards when used in an MRI environment under specified conditions of use.

Several million patients are currently implanted with pacemaker systems worldwide. Recent studies show that many of them will develop a clinical need for an MRI scan during their lifetimes. MRIs serve as a primary diagnostic tool for many diseases and conditions and have several advantages over other diagnostic procedures. For instance, patients who have chronic atrial fibrillation and have suffered a stroke or have lost consciousness, fallen and suffered moderate to severe injuries like hip fractures and head trauma, benefit from an MRI scan.

The patient implanted with Entovis ProMRI at Citrus Memorial on September 19, 2014, is doing well and will be able to undergo MRI scanning after at least six weeks.

“MRI is critical in the diagnosis of many serious conditions but until now, patients with traditional pacemakers have been denied access to this important imaging tool,” said Dr. Stephen Stark with Citrus Cardiology Consultants. “Now, with this MR-Conditional pacemaker we have the ability to detect health issues that may otherwise be difficult to diagnose. The device allows us to give our patients the treatment they need for existing heart conditions with the peace of mind that they will be able to receive diagnostic scans in the future, if needed.”

About Entovis ProMRI
BIOTRONIK ProMRI device and lead systems increase the potential to improve patient access to MRI scanning for those who require pacemakers and give physicians more options to choose from without any compromise on the therapy. The Entovis ProMRI device offers daily monitoring through BIOTRONIK’s Home Monitoring technology and provides the most advanced physiological therapy available.

About Citrus Memorial Health System
Citrus Memorial Health System is a 198 bed, not-for-profit community hospital that provides healthcare services to residents of Citrus County and surrounding communities. More than 150 physicians and 1,000 employees provide a wide range of services at the Inverness campus and at medical offices and clinics in Citrus and Sumter Counties. Citrus Memorial is fully accredited by the Joint Commission and is fully licensed by the State of Florida.


9/11 Memorial Stair Climb and Fitness Challenge Planned

Citrus Memorial Health System, Local 4562 Professional Firefighters of Citrus County, and the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, are gearing up for the 5th Annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb and Fitness Challenge. This year’s event will be held at Citrus Memorial hospital on Sunday, September 14, 2014, with registration beginning at 7:00am.

The event is held each year to honor the 343 firefighters, 60 law enforcement officers, 8 emergency medical technicians and 125 military personnel who perished in the World Trade Center Towers and Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Participants in this grueling fitness challenge are tasked with climbing 110 flights of stairs to symbolize the floors in the World Trade Center Towers. Many firefighters who participate will have the added challenge of completing the climb in full bunker gear and air packs.

“The Professional Firefighters of Citrus County are putting on this athletic challenge to bring awareness to the profession of first responders and firefighters, as well as memorialize those lost on 9/11,” said Driver Engineer Nicholas Faso of the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Fire Rescue Division. “We’re thankful to community members who have participated alongside us in years past and look forward to an even bigger and better event this year as we climb what is essentially a very emotional vertical 5k.”

Members of the community and fitness enthusiasts are encouraged to participate in the climb alongside our local heroes or cheer from the sidelines to motivate participants to keep moving. During the climb, families can enjoy refreshments, fire apparatus displays, health information and a free Kids Firefighter Challenge where children will have the opportunity to compete in an obstacle course and complete their own combat challenge. The Kids Firefighter challenge includes an inflatable obstacle course, firefighter sled and an opportunity for kids to save a victim with the help of a local firefighter. All participants will receive a children’s firefighter helmet, wrist band and event sticker.

Registration for the climb begins at 7:00am and the event starts at 8:00am with a group photo, dedication and prayer, followed by a brief moment of silence. Additional moments of silence will be observed during the event at 8:46am, 9:03am, 9:37am and 10:07am to remember those who lost their lives during the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“There’s no doubt this event is strenuous even for those in peak physical condition,” said Citrus Memorial spokesperson, Katie Mehl. “The event is both physically and emotionally taxing; participants will leave with a renewed admiration for our first responders.”

As they trek up the equivalent of 110 flights, climbers will carry a picture tag of one of the 343 fallen firefighters with them. Water, dry towels and fruit will be available at various intervals and an auxiliary rest area will be located at the mid-point of the climb. Those interested in participating can register online for a $35 registration fee which includes a donation to the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, commemorative t-shirt, wristband, event patch and sticker. Day-of registration will be $45.

Get Serious Citrus begins in September

Eight Week Program Provided by Citrus Memorial Diabetes Center

Beginning on Monday, September 8, 2014, the Citrus Memorial Diabetes Center will begin its fall weight management and weight loss program called Get Serious Citrus. The eight week program does not require a physician referral.

Under the direction of Amy Freeman, Citrus Memorial’s Certified Diabetes Educator, the course will cover the following topics:

  • Detecting fat and calorie intake
  • How to plan a healthful meal
  • Jump starting your metabolism
  • Talking back to negative thoughts
  • Managing stress
  • Staying motivated

Classes meet in the Citrus Memorial Auditorium at 402 W Grace St, Inverness beginning on Monday, September 8, 2014. Classes are scheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The cost is $10 per class. Those interested may pre-register by calling the Citrus Memorial Diabetes Center at (352) 341-6110. 

Pool Tourney, Bachelor Auction to Benefit Charity

Breakroom Billiards and Citrus Memorial Health System are proud to present a charity pool tournament and bachelor/bachelorette auction on Friday, August 8. Join Citrus Memorial’s Relay For Life team for a fun night of socializing, raffle items, pool and the chance to win a date with some of Citrus County’s most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes.

Doors open at 5:30pm with the pool tournament beginning at 6:30pm. The cost is $10 per player.

8pm marks the start of the live bachelor and bachelorette auction where participants can bid on their favorite guy or girl along with packages donated by local businesses. The winner can elect to share the package with the bachelor or bachelorette… or their own companion!

All net event proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society, a nationwide voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem.

Charity Pool Tournament and Bachelor/Bachelorette Auction

When: Friday, August 8, 2014
Doors open at 5:30pm
Relay Pool Tournament at 6:30pm
Bachelor and Bachelorette Auction at 8:00pm

Where: Breakroom Billiards
210 Tompkins St
Inverness, Fl 34450


Use Summer Savvy on the Water

By: Katie Mehl, APR

Citrus County natives and visitors are celebrating summer with the highly anticipated scallop season now in full swing. As families take to the waters of Citrus County – whether to enjoy kayaking, swimming, boating or fishing – they should be aware of one of the largest dangers facing them: drowning.

Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional death in the US and is second only to birth defects in toddler mortality. But, drowning is preventable and parents should be aware of the risks and ready to take safety precautions to ensure every day on the water is a good one.

Sure, drowning isn’t the first thing on your mind when preparing for your beach excursion. You have to bring your water, sunscreen, snacks for the kids, toys and towels and flip flops. I recently spent some time with friends at our neighborhood pool and was surprised to see they showed up with enough supplies to move into the cabana permanently. They were certainly prepared for fun. But, knowing how to reduce the risk of drowning can prevent a costly trip to the Emergency Room, or worse, and ensure that your fun day on the water is memorable for the right reasons.

There are five key ways to reduce your risk:

  •  Teach children to swim. Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 88% among young children aged one to four years, who are at greatest risk of drowning.
  • Closely watch swimmers in or around the water. Designate a responsible adult who can swim and knows CPR to watch swimmers – even when lifeguards are present.
  • Barriers to pool access should be used to help prevent young children from getting to the pool area without caregivers’ awareness. Pool fences should completely separate the house and play area from the pool, be at least four feet high, and have self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward, with latches that are out of the reach of children.
  • Remember the buddy system. Regardless of your age, always swim with a buddy.
  • Use U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets. Do not use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings”, “noodles”, or inner-tubes, in place of life jackets. These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

Bone up on summer safety tips for your family by following #SummerSavvy on Facebook and Twitter. There, you’ll find a variety of safety tips for your family, home and business provided by Citrus Memorial Health System, Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, Nature Coast EMS, Citrus County Chamber of Commerce, Florida Forest Service and Citrus County.

Katie Mehl, APR is the public relations manager at Citrus Memorial Health System.

IPS Student Awarded Scholarship

STEPS Recipient IPSThis week, Inverness Primary School fifth grade student Helen Fuerte received some unexpected news. She earned her first college scholarship. Citrus Memorial Health System’s Chief Nursing Officer, Linda McCarthy, made the announcement during the school’s fifth grade graduation ceremony.

McCarthy spoke to the class about the importance of education and the valuable asset that exists in Citrus County with the College of Central Florida and the criteria students must meet to receive a STEPS scholarship. STEPS, an acronym for Scholarships Taking Elementary Promising Students, is a unique investment in higher education in that it awards a college scholarship to an elementary school student.

Helen will receive a $4,000 scholarship to cover tuition and fees at the College of Central Florida, so long as she graduates from high school having remained drug and crime free, and demonstrating continued academic achievement.

Employee of the Year Named

Barb Pierson, nurse educator, was recently announced 2013 Employee of the Year at Citrus Memorial Health System’s annual Employee Awards ceremony, held May 12 at the Citrus Memorial Auditorium.

Ralph Aleman, Citrus Memorial CEO and Barb Pierson, Employee of the Year.

Ralph Aleman, Citrus Memorial CEO and Barb Pierson, Employee of the Year.

Citrus Memorial President and CEO Ralph Aleman made the award announcement at the event, held each year during National Hospital Week, which recognizes employees for years of service and for outstanding performance.

In announcing the award, Aleman cited the Employee of the Year recipient for her dedication to Citrus Memorial Health System and staff in the Corporate Education department.

The hospital’s Employee of the Year selections come from its monthly ACES and CARES program, in which employees are nominated by fellow employees, volunteers, visitors and patients for the honor. Each month, two employees are selected on the basis of compassion, respect, integrity, creativity, teamwork, knowledge, commitment, accountability, trust and humor.

In addition to the employee of the year winner, 156 employees were recognized for five-year milestones at the event. Topping the list of service award recipients were Valerie Schotter with 35 years of service and Betty Guin with 30 years of service.

Ralph Aleman, CEO, and Randy Weeks, Director of Surgery, congratulate Betty Guin on her award for 30 years of service.

Ralph Aleman, CEO, and Randy Weeks, Director of Surgery, congratulate Betty Guin on her award for 30 years of service.

25 years of service award recipients included: Jane Krolewski, George Mavros, Patricia Shipman and Cynthia Yackowski.

20 years of service award recipients included: Vonda Chmura, Lee Deemer, Sylvia Holloway, Elton Ivey, John Moskes, Theresa Wellbrock, Ruth Whitehurst and Launa Whitton.

Citrus Recognized for Quality, Safety

Citrus Memorial Health System has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for accreditation by demonstrating compliance with The Joint Commission’s national standards for health care quality and safety in hospitals. The accreditation award recognizes Citrus Memorial’s dedication to continuous compliance with The Joint Commission’s state-of-the-art standards.

Citrus Memorial Health System underwent a rigorous unannounced on-site survey in January 2014. A team of Joint Commission expert surveyors evaluated the hospital for compliance with standards of care specific to the needs of patients, including infection prevention and control, leadership and medication management.

“In achieving Joint Commission accreditation, Citrus Memorial Health System has demonstrated its commitment to the highest level of care for its patients,” says Mark G. Pelletier, R.N., M.S., chief operating officer, Division of Accreditation and Certification Operations, The Joint Commission. “Accreditation is a voluntary process and I commend Citrus Memorial for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate its standard of care and instill confidence in the community it serves.”

“With Joint Commission accreditation, we are making a significant investment in quality on a day-to-day basis from the top down. Joint Commission accreditation provides us a framework to take our organization to the next level and helps create a culture of excellence,” says Ralph Aleman, Chief Executive Officer of Citrus Memorial. “Achieving Joint Commission accreditation for our organization is a major step toward maintaining excellence and continually improving the care we provide.”

The Joint Commission’s hospital standards address important functions relating to the care of patients and the management of hospitals. The standards are developed in consultation with health care experts, providers, measurement experts and patients.

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including more than 10,600 hospitals and home care organizations, and more than 6,600 other health care organizations that provide long term care, behavioral health care, laboratory and ambulatory care services. The Joint Commission also certifies more than 2,400 disease-specific care programs such as stroke, heart failure, joint replacement and stroke rehabilitation, and 400 health care staffing services. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at