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Wellmark recognizes 11 Iowa and South Dakota hospitals for quality in cardiac care

December 17, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa (Dec. 17, 2013) – Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield®  today has recognized nine Iowa hospitals and two South Dakota hospitals for delivering quality cardiac care and for doing so cost-efficiently, as part of the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care® program. These noteworthy hospitals have been designated as Blue Distinction Centers+SM (Plus), for delivering quality care while also meeting key requirements for cost-efficiency.


In 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program was developed to help patients find quality providers for specialty care by identifying hospitals that meet objective, transparent, nationally consistent measures that were developed with input from the medical community. Hospitals receiving the Blue Distinction Centers+ (Plus) for Cardiac CareSM, a new designation level added to the program this year, have met both general quality and safety criteria (such as preventing hospital-acquired infections) and cardiac-specific quality measures (related to lower rates of complications and death following cardiac surgery; and non-surgical procedures, such as cardiac stent replacement). They also have demonstrated better cost efficiency relative to their peers. Quality is key: only those facilities that first meet Blue Distinction’s nationally established, objective quality measures are considered to receive the additional Blue Distinction Centers+ (Plus) designation.


“Blue Distinction Centers set themselves apart by adhering to best practices in patient safety and surgical care and producing consistently strong outcomes with fewer complications,” said Tim Gutshall, M.D., Wellmark vice president and chief medical officer. “Wellmark is proud to recognize the high quality and cost-effective care these hospitals and physicians deliver.”


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming nearly 600,000 lives each year. Cardiac procedures, including bypass and cardiac stent placement, are among the most common major medical procedures provided by the U.S. health care system, with more than 1 million procedures performed annually. These cardiac-related procedures cost the nation more than $28 billion annually. The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program seeks to reduce this burden by empowering patients with the knowledge and tools to find both quality and value for their cardiac care needs.


Research shows that Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients, with lower rates of complications and readmissions than their peers. They are also more than 20 percent more cost efficient than non-designated hospitals for those same cardiac procedures.


Hospitals that received Blue Distinction Centers+ (Plus) designations for cardiac care in Iowa and South Dakota include:




Provider/Health System



Allen Memorial Hospital


Genesis Medical Center


Iowa Methodist Medical Center

Des Moines

Mercy Medical Center

Des Moines

Mercy Medical Center


Mercy Medical Center

Sioux City

Mercy Medical Center North Iowa

Mason City

St. Luke’s Methodist Hospital

Cedar Rapids

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Iowa City


South Dakota


Provider/Health System



Avera Heart Hospital of South Dakota

Sioux Falls

Sanford Medical Center

Sioux Falls


For more information about the Blue Distinction Program and to see a list of Blue Distinction Centers for other specialties in your area, visit





About Blue Distinction® Centers

Blue Distinction® Centers met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. Blue Distinction® Centers+ also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable health care. Individual outcomes may vary. National criteria is displayed on  A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area.  To find out which services and providers (including hospital based physicians) are covered under your policy, or to learn about Local Blue Plan Criteria, contact your Local Blue Plan; and contact your provider before making an appointment to verify its current Network and Blue Distinction Centers status. Each hospital’s Cost Index is calculated separately, based on data from its Local Blue Plan. Hospitals in portions of CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in areas served by two Local Blue Plans, resulting in two Cost Index figures; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether all hospitals in these areas must meet Blue Distinction Centers+ national criteria for one or both Cost Index figures. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for damages, losses, or non-covered charges resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.  To find out more, contact your Local Blue Plan.


About Wellmark

Wellmark, Inc. ( ) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, 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, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Contact Wellmark Media Relations

Traci McBee
Phone: 515-376-4338


Teresa Roof
Phone: 515-376-5869


1331 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309-2901

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