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MUSC Children's Hospital keeps national status as one of the best

Staff reports | MUSC News Center | June 9, 2015

MUSC children's hospital 
Dr. Andrew Atz and physical therapist Jennifer Pitassi smile as they work with Children's Hospital patient Matthew Reddick. His sister Caroline (left) helps. 

MUSC Children’s Hospital has again been ranked as a “best hospital” for children’s heart programs in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015-16 edition of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals, published online.

MUSC Children’s Hospital’s pediatric cardiology and heart surgery program is the only program in South Carolina, adult or pediatric, to achieve consecutive national rankings since 2007.

“We are once again honored to be recognized as one of the top pediatric cardiology and heart surgery programs in the country,” said Andy Atz, M.D., pediatric cardiology and Children’s Heart Center director. 

“To optimize the care of the most critical patients, all surgical and catheterization procedures are performed at MUSC, and most children are able to receive continuous heart care in their home areas. This system allows for the highest level of care by specialized teams when needed, while still assuring that most of the patient’s care is delivered closer to home. This coordinated approach is unique to our state, and we are proud to work so closely with our statewide colleagues to provide it.”

Since the earliest days of congenital heart surgery, all of the specialists caring for children with heart disease in South Carolina have worked together to coordinate care and provide the best possible outcomes to patients. More than 30 pediatric cardiologists statewide and two pediatric cardiac surgeons at MUSC Children’s Hospital provide that coordinated care. Cardiology groups are based at MUSC Children’s Hospital and three additional children’s hospitals, including Greenville Memorial Hospital, Palmetto Richland Hospital in Columbia and McLeod Hospital in Florence. Various outreach clinics serve other cities throughout the state.

Rita Ryan, M.D., Department of Pediatrics chairwoman, said the recognition of MUSC’s clinical excellence in this area is a nod to the leadership and staff of the division of pediatric cardiology, the division of pediatric cardiac surgery, MUSC’s state-wide pediatric cardiology collaborators, the pediatric cardiology fellowship program, the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit and all of the many Children’s Hospital supporting services for the Children’s Heart Center.

andrew atz and eric graham 
Attending physician Eric Graham (left) talks with Dr. Atz about a Children's Hospital patient. 

“We’re also excited for the future of pediatric cardiology care because we train so many of the future providers of pediatric heart care all over the country and even abroad,” Ryan said. “The health care providers in this group are tireless and incredibly hardworking; we are so proud of them and what they’ve been able to accomplish.”

The Children’s Heart Center supports family-centered, comprehensive care enhanced by one of the country’s only dedicated pediatric cardiac intensive care units, designed for the critical care of all pediatric cardiac cases.  A multidisciplinary nursing team with expertise in caring for children with heart defects minimizes discomfort and stress for every patient. The center also offers other family support services such as child life specialists to improve the patient’s experience. This team approach will be further enhanced with the construction of the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, slated to open in 2019.

Patrick S. Cawley, CEO of the MUSC Medical Center and vice president for clinical operations, said the pediatric heart program is a jewel at MUSC and well known for its national impact. “This is one example of why we must build the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital. We need a facility that can keep up with, and maybe even help us further improve upon, this already stellar care."

The ninth annual rankings highlight the top 50 U.S. hospitals in each of 10 pediatric specialties: cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology and GI surgery, neonatology, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology, and urology. In the 2015-16 rankings, 83 of the 184 hospitals surveyed were ranked in at least one of the 10 specialties.

The current methodology combines clinical and operational data, results from a reputational survey of board-certified pediatric specialists and supplemental information from resources such as the National Cancer Institute. RTI International collects and analyzes the data for the rankings. The methodology reflects the level and quality of hospital resources directly related to patient care, such as staffing, technology and special services; delivery of health care, such as reputation among pediatric specialists, programs that prevent infections and adherence to best practices; and clinical outcomes, such as patient survival, infection rates and complications. Survival rates, adequacy of nurse staffing and procedure volume are among the many kinds of information about each ranked hospital.



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