Ascension Seton in Kyle was ranked the #3 hospital in the Austin Metro area and the 19th in Texas on markers including patient safety and survival and nurse staffing by U.S. News and World Report in July.
By Anita Miller
KYLE – North Hays County residents might not know it, but they are within minutes of a hospital intent on being one of the best in the nation.
Ascension Seton in Kyle was ranked the #3 hospital in the Austin Metro area and the 19th in Texas on markers including patient safety and survival and nurse staffing, by U.S. News and World Report in July.
The magazine also recognized Ascension Seton Hays as “high performing” in the areas of heart bypass surgery, congestive heart failure and COPD. In June, Newsweek magazine ranked the hospital 14th in the state and 274th nationwide. It was the only Seton facility to be ranked.
Back in 2016, Ascension Seton Hays Chief Medical Officer Fausto Meza told the Hays Free Press that he gathered physicians and nurses and asked them what they wanted the future to be.
“They told us they thought we were a good community hospital,” he said. “But they told us they wanted to be in the top 10% of hospitals in the country and to grow from a community hospital to a regional hospital.”
At that time their journey to greatness began. “What you’re seeing now,” he said, is the result of “four and a half years of dedicated work … you are just starting to see the fruits of our labor.”
Other accolades have also started to pour in. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which assigns a letter grade to hospital performance, has given Ascension Seton Hays four out of a possible five stars, and the Leapfrog Group, which ranks hospitals, has Ascension Seton highly ranked.
“Nurses are really the tip of the spear,” Meza said, noting that Nicky Rivers, who has since left Seton, was instrumental as far back as that first meeting in 2016. “It’s been purposeful,” he said. “It might look to others like it happened overnight, but it was purposeful.”
He said the journey is continuing for the facility to get a five-star rating from CMS, with the goal to achieve that by year’s end.
His hope is that more and more Hays County residents will come to a realization that, “Wow. I may not need to go to Austin or San Antonio or Houston.”
Ascension Seton Hays is fast becoming a well-used trauma center as well, Meza said. Though officially ranked as a Level 3 Trauma Facility it has been functioning at the higher Level 2. Meza said that designation might have been officially upped this year but was delayed because of COVID-19.
“We have saved people’s lives that you’ve probably read about in the news – from motor vehicle accidents to gunshot wounds and stabbings. People in our community have lived because we have developed and been serving as a Trauma Level 2.”
Meza said more physicians and other staff members have been recruited to help the hospital grow as the community grows. “We are becoming that regional medical center,“ he said. “We are one of the top hospitals in the state, and we are just getting started. Nurses, physicians and other people want to come work at one of the top hospitals in the state … you will see us break into the top 10% within a few years.”