The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is the only pediatric hospital in Iowa to make the U.S. News & World Report’s top 50 rankings released Tuesday, although it has been losing ground. The four highly ranked areas are down from six ranked specialties last year, eight in 2016 and nine in 2015. The entryway to the new Children’s Hospital, above, is shown Nov. 5, 2016, during an open house. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
IOWA CITY — University of Iowa Health Care’s century-old children’s hospital — which recently got a new name and new $392.7 million building — again has placed in the top 50 nationally in five of 10 ranked specialties, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2021-22 Best Children’s Hospitals report released Tuesday.
In addition to ranking nationally the 118 children’s hospitals it considered, U.S. News for the first time this year debuted state and regional children’s hospital rankings — like it does for general acute-care hospitals, including the UI Hospitals and Clinics.
The UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital in the publication’s first localized pediatric rankings placed first in Iowa and No. 15 in the Midwest region, which includes its six border states plus Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and North Dakota.
The top placers in the Midwest included Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center at No. 1, with top-tier rankings in all 10 ranked specialties; Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio at No. 2; and the Children’s Hospital of Chicago, both of which also ranked in all 10 specialties.
The UI Children’s Hospital, like last year, placed among the top 50 in five of the 10 ranked specialties — gaining ground in three and slipping in two.
- Neonatology earned the hospital’s highest ranking this year at No. 25, an improvement from last year’s No. 32 but not yet on par with 2019’s No. 16;
- Pediatric orthopedics also improved slightly to No. 35 from last year’s No. 37 — although shy of its No. 29 ranking in 2019;
- Pediatric diabetes and endocrinology lost ground at No. 41, down from last year’s No. 38 and its No. 21 ranking in 2019;
- Pediatric nephrology improved to No. 42 from last year’s No. 49, although still below 2019’s No. 39;
- And the university’s pediatric neurology and neurosurgery ranking slipped to No. 50 from No. 49 last year.
After ranking for years in pediatric cancer care, the UI Children’s Hospital still didn’t rank in the top 50. It also remained unranked in pediatric urology, which UI ranked No. 26 in 2019.
U.S. News — in breaking down its decisions, which follow a methodology involving objective measures like patient outcomes, clinical resources, and also national reputation — publishes a score card showing why each hospital earned its specialty rankings.
The UI Children’s Hospital earned above average or excellent scores in many pediatric cancer considerations, but was average in its ability to prevent infections and its reputation with other physicians, for example.
It fell short in similar categories in its urology score card but achieved high reputation marks in categories like neonatology and nephrology.
In formulating this year’s rankings, U.S. News gathered relevant data from children’s hospitals in early 2020 and from pediatric physicians and other health care organizations in 2021. Due to COVID-19, however, U.S. News did not repeat its data collection for children’s hospitals in 2021, according to the publication.
“To continue to be ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals, particularly following a year in which the nation and the world faced a monumental health crisis, is a testament to the dedication of our exceptional team,” UI Children’s Hospital Chief Administrative Officer Pamela Johnson-Carlson said in a statement. “This is a true honor and really points to our commitment to providing the top-quality care our patients and families have come to expect from this team.”
The new UI Stead Family Children’s Hopsital building includes 14 floors and 507,000 square feet of new construction. It is home to more than 200 pediatric physicians, surgeons, and dentists and last year cared for more than 77,000 children from all 99 Iowa counties, plus 46 states, and 20 other countries.
In a statement, Interim Physician-in-chief Eva Tsalikian — also serving as interim chair and department executive officer of the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics — praised the campus’ “extraordinary team of physicians, nurses, researchers, and staff.”
“To continue to be included on this list of best hospitals is a point of pride for all of our staff and sets the bar consistently high for future residents and staff,” she said.
U.S. News, which touts its rankings as helping families make health care decisions, cited COVID-19 in explaining its decision to debut state and regional pediatric lists.
“We have grown to appreciate the value regional rankings could have for families seeking hospital-based pediatric care,” according to a news release. “Such care often requires long-term follow-up, and extended travel affects the whole family. Not surprisingly, parents tend to seek pediatric hospital care close to home, often within the state where they reside and occasionally in a neighboring state.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed unprecedented complications to travel, adding to the reasons for many families with sick children to seek care close to home.”
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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