A new report says St. Mary’s General Hospital leads the country when it comes to keeping mortality rates low.

The annual report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information looks at the number of deaths that occurred in a hospital versus the number that would be expected.

A hospital standardized mortality ratio number lower than 100 indicates fewer deaths than expected. St. Mary’s finished first in the country with an HSMR score of 66.

“[I] feel great. This is real validation of the journey that we're on,” St. Mary’s president Don Shilton tells CTV.

Shilton attributes the hospital’s high ranking to a number of factors, including daily staff "huddles" on how to improve patient safety, reducing hospital-acquired infections and improving discharge planning.

"Last year we actually implemented more than 1,000 improvements based on the work of these huddles," he says.

Laura Lee, a registered nurse at St. Mary's, says the huddles allow each employee to make suggestions which are then evaluated by the entire group.

"We work through it together, we brainstorm as a whole. Everybody gets to put their input in and we decide which way we want to go," she says.

"We want it to be the best for [patients] because nobody really wants to be in hospital."

Across town at Grand River Hospital, staff celebrated their own ranking. Although they finished well back of St. Mary's, the numbers at Grand River show a turnaround in an area where there had previously been difficulty.

"Five years ago we had a lot of work to do, we found ourselves in the bottom quarter of hospitals in Canada. This year we're in the top quarter, so we continue to improve," says Grand River Hospital CEO Malcolm Maxwell.

Hospitals in North York and Vancouver finished second and third in the country, followed by Brantford General Hospital.