DOVER -- Bruce James, president and CEO of Union Hospital in Dover, said there is some excellent news to share with patients who choose Union Hospital for healthcare services.

"Over the past few years, the data shows significant improvements in clinical quality, patient safety, and customer service at Union Hospital," James said. "And it's not just us making these claims. Union Hospital has gained national recognition from several analysts of healthcare quality."

Since 2010 Union Hospital has been recognized three times by HealthGrades for care of emergency patients admitted to the hospital, two times for Patient Safety, as well as recognition for Critical Care and Pulmonary Medicine. US News and World Report and Consumer Reports cited Union Hospital for treatment of Critical Care patients and high scores in patient safety.

James said some of the most meaningful recognition comes from patients and their families who are surveyed to gain feedback and comments about the care they received.

"We survey all of our inpatients, and many of our outpatients in nearly all service areas to learn about their experience at the hospital and their suggestions for improvement. We've seen our patient satisfaction numbers trend higher over the past five years. We're improving both in our scores and in how we measure up when compared to other hospitals," he said.

In addition to surveying Union Hospital patients, the hospital has been sampling the opinions of the general public to learn more about the community's perception of Union and other hospitals in a multi-county area.

"Our first community image survey in 2010 showed that Union Hospital was the preferred hospital of about 40 percent of Tuscarawas County residents. Two years later, Union Hospital was preferred by 57 percent and our recent survey found preference for Union Hospital had climbed to nearly 63 percent of area residents," James said.

The hospital president points to a number of factors for the improvement in the hospital's public perception.

"As our patient satisfaction scores indicate, patients are increasingly happy with their Union Hospital experience," he said.

A plan to expand the Emergency Department has been in the development stages for the past several years. James said the current ER becomes over-crowded at some of the busier times of the day.

"In the coming months we expect to have a good vision of the ER we'll need in the future, a design to meet that need, and a plan to finance the project. Then it will be up to the Board of Trustees to make the final decision if we will move ahead and begin construction," he said.

James said the hospital and the community's physicians are working together as healthcare reform is bringing changes not only for the doctors and the hospital, but for patients as well.

"I want to reassure everybody that this hospital and our local doctors are determined to continue the high quality, compassionate patient care that has helped to make Union Hospital the preferred hospital in our community," James said.