dave-mittlemanIf you feel a pain in your chest, you might want to think twice before asking the ambulance drivers to take you to Sparrow Hospital. According to the Hospital Care report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Sparrow Hospital ranks worse than most U.S. hospitals when it comes to the mortality rate for heart attack patients with Medicare coverage.

The report analyzed 462 Medicare patients who were treated for heart attacks at Sparrow and discharged from July 2006 to June 2009. Of the 462 patients treated during that time period, 97 died with 30 days of admission. The national mortality rate is 16.2 percent and despite Sparrow’s higher percentage, hospital spokesman, John Berg, argues that none of the patients’ deaths were preventable. Nevertheless, Sparrow recently started a program to provide heart attack patients with two free home visits with a registered nurse and two follow-up calls after discharge.

Lansing’s other major hospital, Ingham Regional Medical Center, performed the same when compared with the national mortality rate for heart attack patients with Medicare coverage. While Ingham Regional brands itself as a premiere cardiac care center, Sparrow is also attempting to improve its image and become Mid-Michigan’s preferred cardiovascular provider. In the past, Sparrow opened a 40,000 square-foot Heart and Vascular Center and also purchased the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Institute, which was based at Ingham’s Greenlawn campus. Despite these advances in providing better cardiovascular care, the Hospital Care report makes it clear that Sparrow still has a long way to go.