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Orthopedics, Gastrointestinal, and Pulmonary Care Cited in Ninth Annual HealthGrades Study

SEATTLE, Wash. – (Oct. 16, 2006) – Virginia Mason Medical Center is ranked among the top 5 percent in the nation for pulmonary care and gastrointestinal (GI) care, and in the top 10 percent in the nation for joint replacement according to a comprehensive study released today by HealthGrades, a company that measures health care quality in hospitals across the country.

Virginia Mason is also the recipient of the 2007 HealthGrades Specialty Excellence Award for joint replacement, pulmonary care and GI care. Additionally, Virginia Mason received five-star ratings for total knee replacement, total hip replacement, GI surgeries and procedures, bowel obstruction, and GI bleed. High quality ratings were also achieved for treatment of community-acquired pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“Virginia Mason is focused on delivering quality care for our patients. We are proud to be listed among the top 5 percent of hospitals nationwide, based on medical outcomes. Public discussion of health care quality is critical to advancing awareness about its importance,” said Gary S. Kaplan, MD, Chairman and CEO, Virginia Mason.

Virginia Mason is a recipient of the 2006 HealthGrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence™, which recognizes hospitals that rank among the top 5 percent nationally for quality outcomes across 28 procedures and diagnoses.

“After total hip replacement surgery, my quality of life returned,” said high school teacher and Virginia Mason patient Jay Young. “At first I didn’t understand the full impact of it, but my students definitely noticed! I’m pain free now and so much happier.”

As part of its ninth annual Hospital Quality in America Study, HealthGrades independently analyzed more than 5,000 hospitals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for its 2007 ratings, objectively assessing their clinical outcomes and quality. The 40 million hospitalization records utilized in the assessment are publicly available and licensed from the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The HealthGrades ratings take into account varying degrees of patient severity from hospital to hospital and measure whether patient outcomes for each of more than two dozen procedures and diagnoses are better than expected (5-Star), as expected (3-Star) or worse than expected (1-Star).

“Consumers continue to ask for more and better information to help them in their health care decision making,” said Samantha Collier, MD, HealthGrades’ vice president of medical affairs. “Our analysis provides an apples-to-apples comparison of hospital performance by procedure or diagnosis, and it is evident there is significant variance between individual hospitals. For Virginia Mason to rank among the nation’s best reflects the efforts of everybody in the organization, and should be very comforting to area residents.”

“Quality improvement in health care is our most important work and studies like this provide a broad look at the incredible outcomes that are achievable. We fully support transparency around medical outcomes to help further advances,” said Cathie Furman, RN, Vice President, Quality and Compliance at Virginia Mason.

The 2007 HealthGrades ratings for all hospitals nationwide are available, free of charge, on HealthGrades’ consumer Web site, located at www.healthgrades.com. More than three million individuals and employees of more than 125 major employers visit the HealthGrades Web site every month to access quality information about hospitals, nursing homes and physicians. HealthGrades also provides consumers and payers with detailed assessments of hospitals’ patient-safety outcomes, based on indicators developed by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

About Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a not-for-profit comprehensive regional health care system that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of nearly 500 physicians with a 336-bed acute care hospital in Seattle. In addition, Virginia Mason has a network of clinics located throughout the Puget Sound area, and manages Bailey-Boushay House, a nursing residence and adult day health program for people living with HIV and AIDS. Virginia Mason also has an internationally recognized research center, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason.

About HealthGrades
HealthGrades (Nasdaq:HGRD) is the leading health care ratings company, providing ratings and profiles of hospitals, nursing homes and physicians to consumers, corporations, health plans and hospitals. Millions of consumers and hundreds of the nation’s largest employers, health plans and hospitals rely on HealthGrades’ independent ratings to make health care decisions based on the quality of care. More information on the company can be found at www.healthgrades.com.

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