Scores of physicians, staffers and other employees joined members of the news media Monday morning as Adventist Health Bakersfield announced one of the most significant awards they've yet received.

Leapfrog, a healthcare rating organization, has named Adventist Health Bakersfield one of only 35 hospitals in the United States and six in California to receive its Top Hospital Award. The downtown medical center is the only hospital in Kern County to receive the award.

According to Leapfrog's web site, facilities named Top Hospitals "have better systems in place to prevent medication errors, higher quality on maternity care and lower infection rates, among other laudable qualities."

“What a tremendous honor to be one of six hospitals in our state and the only in Kern County to receive this Top Hospital Award,” said Sharlet Briggs, AH Bakersfield president and CEO. “Every day, our staff comes ready to provide high quality, compassionate care that exemplifies our mission of inspiring our community to live life marked by health, wholeness and hope.

“I’m extremely proud of our Top Hospital recognition and our third “A” grade that truly illustrates our commitment to providing the best health care available in Kern County.”

Scores of hospital employees and other medical professionals watched as a large banner was unfurled high on the hospital wall, facing Chester Avenue. Applause and cheers broke out when Briggs lauded the staff for the role they played in helping AH Bakersfield earn the honor.

The award comes following the hospital’s “A” Hospital Safety Grade, for the third consecutive year, a recognition that also comes from the Leapfrog Group.

But the latest award is more like an A-plus-plus, Briggs said.

Performance across several areas of hospital care is considered in establishing the qualifications for the award, according to Leapfrog. This criteria includes infection rates, maternity care, and the hospital’s capacity to prevent medication errors.

“Being acknowledged as a Top Hospital is an incredible feat achieved by less than six percent of eligible hospitals nationwide,” Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, said in a press release.

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

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