IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital has been up and running for more than a year, but the $360 million, 14-floor facility has not yet improved the pediatric hospital’s national rankings as expected.
A U.S. News & World Report ranking of top pediatric specialties released Tuesday places the Children’s Hospital among the nation’s 50 best in four areas — but that’s down from its top ranking in six specialties last year, eight in 2016 and nine in 2015.
And all but one of UI’s four ranked pediatric specialties lost ground this time, according to the “2018-19 Best Children’s Hospitals” report.
Its pediatric cancer ranking, which dropped from 27 to 34 last year, decreased further to 36 in the new rankings.
Its neonatology ranking, which improved last year from 28 to 20, this year just eked into the top 50 at 49.
The pediatric nephrology ranking slipped to 28 from 21 last year.
Its pediatric orthopedics marked the only rankings improvement, making the list at 46 after falling off last year. In 2016, the UI ranked 35 in the specialty.
Three areas in which the university earned top 50 honors last year didn’t make the list this year: pediatric cardiology, pulmonology and urology.
Despite the declines, UI executives noted the Children’s Hospital is the only one in Iowa ranked in the 12th annual list, which recognizes the nation’s top 50 pediatric facilities in 10 specialties: cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery, neonatology, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology.
And the UI Children’s Hospital has been ranked in some capacity for 10 years in a row.
“We are pleased to see our tradition of providing excellent care to our patients and their families continue to be recognized,” Raphael Hirsch, physician-in-chief of the Children’s Hospital and chair of the UI Stead Family Department of Pediatrics, said in a statement. “These rankings symbolize our expertise in pediatric care and our commitment to those we serve.”
The rankings are based on clinical data and an annual survey of pediatric specialists, and they factor in patient outcomes — like mortality and infection rates, clinical resources and best practice compliance.
Last year, in response to the drop in some pediatric specialties, then- Children’s Hospital chief executive Scott Turner said he expected the new hospital to bump up future rankings. Turner left the university at the end of last year to become chief operating officer for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
In a news release Tuesday, Children’s Hospital interim Executive Director Amy O’Deen said the campus is “proud of the specialized expertise of our pediatric care teams and their dedication to the children of Iowa and beyond.”
“Being recognized, once again, as one of our nation’s best children’s hospitals highlights the quality of our services across a comprehensive array of specialties and commitment to the well-being of children and their families,” O’Deen said in a statement.
In response to questions about the declines, she said officials will examine the data “to see what we can learn.”
“Though these rankings are for the 2018-2019 period, the time studied was July 2016 through June 2017, during which time we had been in the new building only a few months,” she said.
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