by Carole Bartoo
Less than one year after its move into a facility that is nationally recognized for its design, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has been awarded a very public honor for the service the hospital provides. The Children’s Hospital has been ranked in the top 10 children’s hospitals in the nation, according to Child magazine.
Child magazine made the announcement Jan. 4 on the NBC morning show Today. The Children’s Hospital was listed number eight in the nation from among 144 original applicants. The rankings also listed Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital as seventh in the nation for pediatric cancer services.
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs for Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Harry Jacobson, M.D., says this is evidence that Vanderbilt has been successfully fulfilling its promise of building one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals. “The University made a conscious choice to offer pediatric clinical services for this region that are world class. The Child magazine ranking is an early endorsement that our investment is bearing fruit.”
Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jim Shmerling said he is thrilled the hospital was so well received, but he said he is most proud of the fact that much of the information for the survey came from data collected before the new hospital opened. That means the credit goes– not just to the new building itself– but to the people who work inside it.
“It is quite humbling to be listed among some of the best children’s hospitals in the country.” Shmerling said. “A beautiful facility such as ours, full of state-of-the-art technology coupled with family-centered amenities can only be successful if it is staffed with physicians and hospital personnel that make it all work. We have to recognize the roots from which we are able to attract all these bright and talented people. Our greatest strength comes from being part of the Vanderbilt campus.”
Medical Director Arnold Strauss, M.D., said the Child magazine survey itself impressed him.
"Because Child magazine rates America’s children’s hospitals based upon objective data related to outcomes for cancer, heart disease and other disorders, the ranking of VCH in the top 10 really does mean that we provide outstanding care,” Strauss said. “The ranking is a tribute to the outstanding nursing staff and the pediatricians and pediatric surgical specialists who deliver this care and to the Nashville and Middle Tennessee communities who have so generously supported our work."
Barbara Walczyk, assistant hospital director of operations, did much of the research to fill out the 164-question survey.
“This was a great exercise for our team to see how well our services are structured and executed,” Walczyk said. “We know each and every front line worker and clinician earned this ranking, because it takes a team effort to provide such well regarded service. This survey let us review the evidence to validate our feelings – that Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital is one of the best at serving the needs of children and their families.”
This is the third year Child magazine has published this ranking. The comprehensive survey – whose results will appear in the February 2005 issue of the magazine on newsstands nationwide Jan. 11 – was based on strict criteria and data.
“Child magazine believes it is important to champion those children’s hospitals that offer superb medical treatment as well as sensitive and supportive care to families,” said Miriam Arond, Child magazine’s editor in chief. “Our goal is to highlight those pediatric institutions that are excelling in their mission as well as to make parents aware of what services and qualities to look for in their local hospitals.”
The survey included questions pertaining to survival rates for childhood cancers, heart surgeries, organ transplants, and premature births. Also, questions were asked about staff qualifications; nurse-to-patient ratios; research funding and the number of clinical trials; the availability of playrooms, lending libraries, and activities to help a child’s hospital experience seem less frightening; and family services like support groups and sleeping accommodations for parents.
“This is the only ranking of its kind in the United States,” said Amy Casseri, director of communications and community relations. “The data Child magazine uses is about clinical care and safety; things that are very important to the public. This is a great way for families to get a close look at how good we are and how we rate when compared with the top hospitals in the country. We are honored to serve our families and we’re glad to show them they are in excellent hands”
“This community came forth with unmatched charity and generosity to build the best children’s hospital possible,” said the hospital’s namesake, Monroe Carell Jr., who is a driving force behind the fund-raising efforts to build the new hospital, “This ranking is proof to the community that we’ve made the right choice for our children.”