Health

University of Iowa Children's Hospital again ranked nationally, but loses some ground

UI slips in six nationally ranked specialties, gains in one

The University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital is seen in Iowa City on Monday, April 13, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The
The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is seen in Iowa City on Monday, April 13, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital again has been cited for elite status among the nation’s Top 50 pediatric hospitals — although four of its five ranked specialties slipped in the standings from last year, when Iowa ranked among the top 50 in six of 10 specialties.

The UI Children’s Hospital in the new 2020-21 U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospital rankings, made public Tuesday, fell out of the top 50 for pediatric cancer care, a specialty in which it has ranked for years, and urology, in which it ranked No. 26 last year.

As Iowa’s only nationally ranked children’s hospital, the UI Children’s Hospital boasted one new specialty in the top 50 this year — pediatric neurology and neurosurgery, at No. 49.

Its other four ranked specialties lost ground in the national standings:

• Neonatology fell from No. 16 to 32.

• Pediatric orthopedics dropped from No. 29 to 37.

• Pediatric diabetes and endocrinology slipped from No. 21 to 38.

• Pediatric nephrology dipped from No. 39 to 49 — the lowest it’s been since at least 2015.

The hospital in 2019 ranked No. 46 for cancer care, down from No. 36 in 2019 and No. 27 back in 2016.

U.S. News, which calls itself the “global authority in hospital rankings,” for years has rated hospitals overall and by specialty, introducing its Best Children’s Hospital rankings in 2007.

The pediatric rankings consider clinical data in calculating placement and also an annual survey of pediatric specialists, meaning reputation plays a role.

Among the data figured in are patient outcomes — such as mortality and infection rates — along with clinical resources and best-practice compliance. Only the top 50 hospitals earn a ranking in the 10 pediatric specialties the publication evaluates.

In announcing its top hospitals Tuesday, U.S. News acknowledged the unprecedented circumstances most of its health care facilities have been facing in recent weeks and months as the novel coronavirus continues to infect and kill thousands of Americans daily.

“As the world and its health care systems grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. News remains committed to providing data-driven information and guidance to help patients, families and caregivers understand their health care options,” according to a U.S. News release of its 14th annual Best Children’s Hospitals rankings.

The 2020-21 edition, however, does not include statistics or survey findings affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which came after its data-collection period.

Earning the top spots on the U.S. News’ overall Best Children’s Hospitals honor roll are Boston Children’s Hospital at No. 1; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia at No. 2; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center at No. 3; Texas Children’s Hospital at No. 4; and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles at No. 5.

UI Health Care in February 2017 debuted a new 14-story $392 million stand-alone Children’s Hospital — separating it from adult units in the main campus. The university’s former Children’s Hospital executive director Scott Turner then left months later for a similar job with the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and UIHC Senior Associate Director Amy O’Deen stepped in as interim head until administrators hired a permanent replacement in April — nearly three years after Turner left.

Pamela Johnson-Carlson assumed leadership of the 190-bed pediatric hospital April 27 — as UIHC was ramping up its coronavirus protocols and practices. To date, the main hospital has treated 231 adult patients, including 15 currently.

The UI Children’s Hospital has treated 10 COVID-19 patients to date, although it doesn’t have any at the moment, according to hospital officials.

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In a statement, Johnson-Carlson — who previously served as vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Colorado Springs — highlighted Iowa’s “long-standing tradition of being ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals.”

“It’s a badge of honor for our care team and truly highlights their dedication to providing top-quality care and support to the patients and families that come here,” Johnson-Carlson said in a statement.

Eva Tsalikian, interim physician-in-chief for the UI Children’s Hospital and interim chair and department executive officer of the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics, touted the doctors, nurses, researchers and other staff who “provide not only the best care and treatment for Iowa’s pediatric patients but also for children from across the country and around the world.”

“Taking care of the children here is deeply gratifying and getting recognized for it makes us extra proud,” she said.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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