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Pledge the Gift of Life

Each year, the lives of thousands of people across the country are saved because someone made the choice to become an organ donor. In April, Allegheny Health Network is honored to celebrate National Donate Life Month and pay tribute to all of those who have bestowed the precious gift of life to another through organ donation. Visit AHNdonate.org to learn more and register to be an organ donor.



Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014


Allegheny General Hospital Designated a Blue Distinction Center for Spine, Knee and Hip Surgery

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield has designated Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) as a Blue Distinction Center for both spine surgery and hip and knee replacement.

Allegheny General offers comprehensive orthopaedic and spinal surgery services, including an array of minimally-invasive options and motion-preserving approaches.

“This program supports Highmark’s consumerism approach to give members a greater hand in their health by providing tools to help members make informed choices about their health care,” said Carey Vinson, MD, Vice President for Quality and Medical Performance Management at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. “The Blue Distinction Centers designation offers members reliable, quality-based information pertaining to Blue network-participating facilities when selecting a provider.”

The selection criteria used to evaluate facilities were developed with input from a panel of expert physicians. To be designated as a Blue Distinction Center, the following types of criteria were evaluated. More information on selection criteria is available on www.bcbs.com:

• Established acute care inpatient facility, including intensive care, emergency care, and a full range of patient support services with full accreditation by a CMS-deemed national accreditation organization
• Experience and training of program surgeons, including case volume
• Quality management programs, including surgical checklists as well as tracking and evaluation of clinical outcomes and process of care
• Multi-disciplinary clinical pathways and teams to coordinate and streamline care, including transitions of care
• Shared decision making and preoperative patient education

The Blue Distinction designation is awarded by the Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield plans to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality healthcare in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacement, spine surgery and transplants. The program is part of The Blues® efforts to collaborate with physicians and medical facilities to improve the overall quality and safety of specialty care.

“Blue Distinction puts a high value on research and evidence-based health and medical information,” said Allan Korn, MD, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Chief Medical Officer. “Blue Distinction Centers show our commitment to working with doctors and hospitals in communities across the country to identify leading institutions that meet clinically validated quality standards and deliver better overall outcomes in patient care.”

AGH is a nationally-recognized academic medical center that serves the flagship hospital of the West Penn Allegheny Health System as well as a campus of the Drexel University School of Medicine.
The hospital is designated as both a Neurosciences Center of Excellence and a Spine Center of Excellence, based on a recent independent study of neurosurgical capabilities and patient care quality at medical centers around the country.

AGH surgeons who specialize in spine care include Jack Wilberger, MD; Chair, Department of Neurosurgery; J. Brad Bellotte, MD, Director, Complex Spine Surgery; Donald Whiting, MD; David Oliver Smith, MD; Michael Oh, MD; Patrick Flannagan, MD; Hae Dong Jho, MD; Parviz Baghai, MD, James Burgess, MD; Richard Prostko, MD, and David Cohen, MD. In addition, Daniel Altman, MD, and Mark Fye, MD, from the Department of Orthopaedics, provide specialized spine surgery services.

AGH’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery has been recognized among the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals for orthopaedic surgery by Solucient, one of the nation’s largest providers of health information.

Under the direction of Chair Patrick J. DeMeo, MD, the following physicians specialize in hip and knee procedures within the Department of Orthopaedics: Julius J. Huebner, MD; Alan H. Klein, MD; Gregory S. Lavigne, MD; Richard L. Ray, MD; Michael J. Seel, MD; Jeffrey J. Sweecke, DO; and Nicholas G. Sotereanos, MD.

In addition to these recent Blue Distinction Center honors, West Penn Allegheny Health System has earned six additional Blue Distinction Centers including cardiac care recognition at Allegheny General, West Penn Hospital and West Penn Hospital – Forbes Campus; complex and rare cancer recognition at Allegheny General and bariatric surgery recognition at Allegheny General and West Penn Hospital.

There are just 1,600 recognized Blue Distinction Center programs in the nation.

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