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News Release

Mercy named Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement

February 18, 2010

Blue Distinction for Hip and Knee ReplacementWellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa has designated Mercy Medical Center—Des Moines as a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. Blue Distinction Centers for Knee and Hip Replacement is part of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association’s expansion of its Blue Distinction® designation. Mercy is the only Des Moines hospital to receive the recognition.

"Being named a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement validates the dedication of our physicians, nurses and staff to meeting established quality standards to ensure positive patient outcomes,” said Dave Vellinga, Mercy president & CEO. “In addition, it recognizes Mercy’s commitment to quality in joint replacement.”

The selection criteria used to evaluate facilities were developed with input from a panel of expert physicians. To be designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement, the following types of criteria were evaluated.  More information on selection criteria is available on

  • Established acute care inpatient facility, including intensive care, emergency care, and a full range of patient support services with full accreditation by a CMS-deemed national accreditation organization
  • Experience and training of program surgeons, including case volume
  • Quality management programs, including surgical checklists as well as tracking and evaluation of clinical outcomes and process of care
  • Multi-disciplinary clinical pathways and teams to coordinate and streamline care, including transitions of care
  • Shared decision making and preoperative patient education

Driven by quality, collaboration and affordability, Blue Distinction strengthens consumer engagement and provider partnerships through new specialty centers, which offer the best practices and standards of care in bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacement, spine surgery and transplants. The program is part of The Blues® efforts to collaborate with physicians and medical facilities to improve the overall quality and safety of specialty care.

“Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is committed to working with hospitals and physicians to ensure the highest quality care for our members,” says Paul Karazija, M.D., Wellmark’s chief medical officer. “The Blue Distinction designation is designed to help our members choose hospitals with a proven track record for meeting aggressive quality standards.”

The additional Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement designations will bring the nation’s number of Blue Distinction designations to more than 1,600—and this number is expected to increase in the coming years. 


Mercy Medical Center is a tertiary hospital that includes 802 beds on three campuses. It also serves patients and families through its long-term care facilities, hospice, physician clinics, rehabilitation centers and other services. Mercy is affiliated with 18 other hospitals and long-term care facilities in central and southern Iowa. Mercy is a not-for-profit Catholic organization and is a member of Mercy Health Network and Catholic Health Initiatives.

 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.

Note: Designation as Blue Distinction Centers means these facilities’ overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians’ and leading professional organizations’ recommendations. Individual outcomes may vary. To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan.

Contact Gregg Lagan
Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines

cell 515-490-6636

Learn more about Mercy Orthopaedic Services and Mercy Center for Joint Replacement

1111 6th Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50314 (515) 247-3121
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