Gilbert Gaul's July 24 front-page story, "Bad Practices Net Hospitals More Money," inaccurately portrayed Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Medical Center as a dirty hospital. No evidence supports this unfair assertion.

No aggregate clinical evidence shows that infections suffered by the plaintiff patients occurred as a result of care provided at Palm Beach Gardens. In addition, as we indicated to Mr. Gaul, an independent study of hospital cardiac patients between January 1995 and December 2001 by outside infection experts determined that the infection rate at the hospital was lower than the national norm. It's also important to note that open-heart surgery by definition is risky, and many elderly patients who need surgery have other health problems, such as diabetes, that cause them to be vulnerable to infection.

Most disappointing was the fact that Mr. Gaul did not mention that our medical center has received accolades from the health care industry for its care. The hospital was one of only 11 nationally to receive special recognition from the American Heart Association for exceeding cardiac quality benchmarks. The hospital was a recipient of the 2005 HealthGrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence, and it received numerous other awards from HealthGrades for top rankings related to clinical excellence and cardiac services.

In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations have said that Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center has demonstrated clinical performance on a par with or exceeding national quality measures.

MARY JO GREGORY

Chief Executive

Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center

Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.