Betsy Ryan is president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association. Her blog, Healthcare Matters, examines the many issues confronting New Jersey's hospitals and their patients. Readers are encouraged to join the discussion, because healthcare matters - to all of us.

Cheers for Our Nurses and for NJ’s Great Strides in Cardiac Care

Great news for New Jersey: The state’s latest report card on cardiac surgery care in the state’s hospitals shows continued improvement. In fact, New Jersey’s mortality rate following heart surgery has now fallen to the lowest point since the state first started reporting the data in 1994-95.

Quality improvement is no accident. I happen to be writing this on Nurses Day, and I know that our nurses play a major role in our accomplishments in patient safety and quality improvement. Our steady, progressive improvement is the result of commitment, communication, attention to detail and persistence by those dedicated nurses as well as hospital leaders, physicians and the state Department of Health and Senior Services. It’s a partnership to examine our processes and outcomes in caring for cardiac patients, confront any shortcomings we find and dedicate ourselves to improvements that make our care better and safer.

All told, about 2 percent of patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery died following the procedure in 2007, the report states. That’s a serious operation and clearly there are risks involved. But we aren’t content with that 2 percent rate – although it does represent a 54 percent decline over the last 15 years. Our goal is zero. Some would say that’s unattainable, but the important thing is the journey – every step along the way improves healthcare for our patients.

To our nurses and physicians, keep up the good work. To state Health Commissioner Dr. Poonum Alaigh, thanks for the leadership and kind words. And to the patients of New Jersey, rest assured, we’ll keep working to provide you the best care possible.

Written by Betsy Ryan at 15:23

Take Action Today to Become an Organ Donor

Thank you, Grace Sato; thank you, Kellye Miller; thank you to the Bottino Family. And thank you to the many selfless New Jersey residents who have made the life-giving decision to donate an organ or tissue.

Their personal stories are available on the Web site It’s a one-stop resource to learn about organ and tissue donation in our state and, most importantly, it offers a simple way to join the statewide registry of designated donors.

I can’t underscore how important the issue is to your friends and neighbors across the Garden State. There currently are 4,200 N.J. residents who face a very uncertain future without an organ donation. Nationwide, about 100,000 people are awaiting a life-saving organ transplant, and another name is added to the list every 12 seconds. And each day, about 18 Americans die, still waiting…

April is National Organ Donation Awareness Month. Make it a time to talk with your family about organ donation and then take the next steps to become a designated donor. Surveys show that 90 percent of Americans say they support donation, but only 30 percent know how to take the steps needed to become a donor. It couldn’t be much easier. The next time you renew your drivers license, say “yes” to organ donation. Or take action today by visiting and sign up for the online registry.

Written by Betsy Ryan at 20:00

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