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U.S. News and World Report dubs MUSC one of "Best Children's Hospital"

Three specialties make national list, all within top 50 in the nation

Staff Reports | News Center | June 11, 2013

Dr. David SasDemarco Brayboy, 7,  jokes around as Dr. David Sas, pediatrics, tries to examine him June 10.  Demarco has end stage renal disease and needs a kidney transplant.  MUSC's Children's Hospital Nephrology Department has been ranked 31st in the nation in US News and World Report.

MUSC Children’s Hospital continues its streak as ranking in the top 50 hospitals for children’s heart programs in U.S. News Media Group's 2013-2014 edition of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals, along with a first-time top 50 ranking for the pediatric nephrology program and a second year showing for the pediatric gastroenterology program.

Survival rates, adequacy of nurse staffing, procedure volume and much more can be viewed at this website and will be published in the U.S. News Best Hospitals 2014 guidebook, available in August.

Dr. Rita Ryan 

“The children of South Carolina are extremely fortunate to have the level of quality for these programs available so close to home. The excellence in these areas also attracts pediatric medical and surgical specialists in other areas as well,” said Rita Ryan, M.D., Department of Pediatrics chair. “It’s what separates us from other pediatric hospitals or programs in the state.”

Of the 10 specialties ranked by USNWR, MUSC Children’s Hospital now has three specialties recognized with the inaugural showing of the nephrology program.

John Sanders, Children’s Hospital administrator, said the physicians and staff at the Children’s Hospital are dedicated to providing the very best possible care to the children of this community and the state. “We are very excited to see three of our services recognized and we expect that even more will be ranked next year. Over the years we have been fortunate to be recognized by several organizations in regards to our outcomes and quality initiatives. We will continue to work to improve the care that we provide because the children deserve the best.”

Ryan said the rankings identify these programs as extremely high quality. “Our pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery program has been a top-tier program for years and remains the only pediatric cardiac surgery program in the state, with important partnership from all of the other tertiary pediatric cardiac programs in the state, which combine as the Children’s Heart Program of South Carolina.”

More outreach clinics for pediatric cardiology are planned in Beaufort and Georgetown by July. To improve the program even more, the Children’s Hospital is creating two additional beds in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit soon, increasing the pediatric cardiac ICU capability to 14 patients.

The gastroenterology program (GI) jumped 10 spots since last year’s rankings thanks to new experts in inflammatory bowel disease or IBD.

“The GI program got a huge boost with the addition of two new faculty, Dr. Christine Carter-Kent, from the Cleveland Clinic, and the new division chief, Dr. Antonio Quiros, from San Francisco, who brings super-specialized endoscopy skills to the program,” Ryan said.

The new entry for this year’s ranking is pediatric nephrology dealing with kidney disease. The program has risen under the leadership of new division chief, Ibrahim Shatat, M.D., who has a special interest in hypertension and brought national recognition to the division by hosting the Midwest Pediatric Nephrology Consortium, a clinical research network, in Charleston earlier this year.

 Dr. David Sas goes over paper work with medical student Sara Hampton Ritchie Monday morning.

The nephrology program also enhanced the MUSC Children’s Hospital Pediatric Solid Organ Transplant program, which includes kidney, heart and liver transplantation, by hiring new pediatric kidney transplant nephrologist Katherine Twombley, M.D., who joined the Department of Pediatrics in 2012.

Shatat said Twombley, working with the transplant department, made MUSC’s pediatric transplant program one of the top programs in the country. “Currently, Dr. Twombley is working on new protocols to give children with kidney failure – who previously were not candidates to receive a kidney transplant due to complete immunological profiles – a better chance by desensitizing them, a process that is performed in only a handful of medical centers around the country.”

Also a part of the program’s success is the establishment of the pediatric kidney stone program, which provides a comprehensive work up and management tools for children who suffer from the disease. MUSC’s David Sas, along with pediatric urology colleagues, created the program in order to identify risk factors of kidney stones and clinical interventions to prevent their recurrence.

Sas said he is very proud of his division’s ranking because it reflects the tremendous amount of work that he, Shatat and Twombley have put into building the division. “Our team is a ‘triple threat,’ meaning we focus on excellence in clinical care, teaching and research.  We support each other’s interests and understand that we’re all on the same team, working toward a common goal.  We are all equally geeky about our love for all things kidney.”

Sas said he enjoys the challenge of problem solving for a living and it’s part of what drew him to his field. “I love that we get some of the most complicated and sickest patients with difficult-to-solve medical mysteries, and get to really dig in and think about them to come up with answers.”

The 2013-2014 America's Best Children's Hospitals, the most extensive listing of its kind, includes 50 hospitals in each of 10 pediatric specialties: cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology, neonatology, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology, and urology.

“MUSC Children’s Hospital deserves high praise,” said Health Rankings Editor Avery Comarow. “Ranking shows the dedication and expertise that MUSC brings to the care of children who need those qualities the most. We think it is important to identify and call attention to pediatric centers like this one.”

For families of sick children, Best Children’s Hospitals provides unparalleled quality-related information in addition to rankings, including survival rates, adequacy of nurse staffing, procedure volume, and much more. Since their 2007 debut, the rankings have put an increasing emphasis on data that directly reflect hospitals’ performance over the opinions of physicians.

Each hospital’s reputation among doctors was only a small part of what U.S. News factored into its rankings. Three-quarters of each hospital’s score was determined through an analysis of patient outcomes and data on the structural resources each hospital has for pediatric care. To gather data, U.S. News used two surveys: a clinical questionnaire sent to 179 pediatric hospitals and, for the reputational assessment, a survey of 150 pediatric specialists and subspecialists in each specialty. The 1,500 physicians were asked where they would send the sickest children in their specialty, setting aside location and expense.

Patrick Cawley, M.D., executive director and vice president for clinical operations, said, "This recognition, based upon rigorous standards, is clear evidence of the dedication to quality and patient safety in the Children's Hospital. They are a focused high-performance interdisciplinary team."



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