Health

Report: University of Iowa Children's Hospital remains among nation's elite

Rankings show 20-spot improvement in pediatric cancer care

The main entrance to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is shown alongside the new University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
The main entrance to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is shown alongside the new University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — New national rankings once again place the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital among the best in the country, earning spots in the top 50 in eight specialties.

U.S. News & World Report last year ranked the UI Children’s Hospital in nine specialties — its neurology and neurosurgery program fell out of the top 50 this year after making it in at No. 49 last year. All its other top-50 programs stayed on the list, with four specialties climbing higher, three holding steady and one dropping slightly.

Children’s Hospital saw its biggest ranking improvement in the pediatric cancer specialty, with a jump from No. 47 last year to No. 27 in the 2016-2017 report made public Tuesday. Its pulmonology ranking also improved more than 10 spots from No. 49 last year to No. 35 this year. Its orthopedics ranking rose from No. 45 to No. 35, according to the report.

The only UI pediatric specialty that lost ground — other than neurology and neurosurgery — was neonatology, which slipped from No. 23 last year to No. 28 this year.

The UI Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in Iowa nationally ranked in pediatric care, according to UI officials. Raphael Hirsch, the Children’s Hospital physician-in-chief and chairman and department executive officer of the UI Stead Family Department of Pediatrics, said the facility has been named by U.S. News & World Report as an elite pediatric center every year since 2009.

“This is a distinction for which we are extremely proud,” Hirsch said in a statement. “It underscores our expertise in pediatric medicine and our commitment to children and their families.”

University of Iowa Health Care is on track to debut a new $360 million, 14-floor children’s hospital later this year. The facility, which includes 507,000 square feet of new construction tucked in the heart of the existing UIHC campus, is scheduled to start training staff in October and treating patients in December.

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Scott Turner, executive director of the UI Children’s Hospital — recently renamed the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital in honor of UI donors Jerre and Mary Joy Stead — called the project a “collaborative effort and a remarkable journey over the past several years.” He said it will enable the institution to continue its service as one of the country’s elite pediatric centers.

“Our new facility will offer families a welcoming, healing environment and allow our doctors, nurses, and staff to continue to provide the high-quality care and service that makes us one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals according to U.S. News,” Turner said in a statement.

The U.S. News & World Report rankings, which analyze data from nearly 5,000 centers, identify the top 50 pediatric facilities in 10 specialties. The 2016-17 list includes 79 hospitals ranked in at least one specialty.

Scores are based on patient outcome and care-related factors like patient safety and nurse staffing. The rankings provide specifics regarding survival rates, staffing adequacy, procedure volume, and ability to prevent infection by hospital and specialty.

The UI Children’s Hospital pediatric cancer score card, for example, shows “excellent” marks in five-year survival, advanced technologies, and family involvement, among other things. That UI specialty has “above average” marks in commitment to quality improvement and nurse staffing.

And it has “average” marks in number of new patients and reputation with specialists.

The rankings will be published in the U.S. News and World Report “Best Hospitals 2017” guidebook on Aug. 1.

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