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VUMC makes strides in U.S. News ranking

BY: DOUG CAMPBELL

7/13/2007 - Vanderbilt University Medical Center's status among the nation's elite health care providers is growing, according to U.S. News & World Report's newly released ranking of “America's Best Hospitals.”

This year, VUMC had nine specialty programs ranked among the top 50 of their respective fields, up from seven last year. No other Tennessee hospital made the list in any category. Only 173 of 5,462 hospitals screened nationwide were ranked among the 16 specialty categories designated by the magazine.

Highlights include:

• For the first time in six years, Vanderbilt's program in Heart and Heart Surgery was recognized, ranking 21st in the nation. Vanderbilt's was the only heart program in the state to make the list.

• Two programs — Gynecology and Kidney Disease — were ranked in the top 10.

• Both Gynecology and Endocrinology posted dramatic gains. Gynecology leaped from 24th on last year's list to 10th this year, and Endocrinology climbed from 32nd to 19th.

“These rankings show that the people at Vanderbilt are committed to providing the best possible care to our patients,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “They are one indicator of the quality of the patient care, education and research we conduct. It's our patients, students and colleagues who value the services we provide, however, who give us our greatest recognition.”

Martin Sandler, M.B., Ch.B., associate vice chancellor for Hospital Affairs, was pleased at the growth in the number of specialty programs recognized.

“I would like to congratulate the departments that both made and improved their respective rankings. I would especially like to commend those from Heart and Heart Surgery, who ranked so highly after being off the list for the past five consecutive years. This is truly a remarkable achievement by all,” Sandler said.

The VUMC specialty programs ranked by U.S. News were:

• Cancer (22)

• Ear, Nose and Throat (16)

• Endocrinology (19)

• Gynecology (10)

• Heart and Heart Surgery (21)

• Kidney Disease (10)

• Orthopaedics (49)

• Respiratory Disorders (18)

• Urology (13)

U.S. News will rank Pediatric hospitals separately in early September.

Vanderbilt's strong showing in Heart and Heart Surgery reflects the institution's commitment to growing the Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute, said John Byrne, M.D., chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery.

“What distinguishes us is not just the technology we offer, our superb clinical outcomes and our growth in clinical volumes, it's how we are organized. It's the paradigm where the combination is greater than the sum of the parts.

“The people who work at VHVI know that they are part of something special, something that matters, something that makes a difference,” Byrne said.

Douglas Vaughan, M.D., chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, echoed those sentiments.

“We've reinvented what a heart program should look like, which is why other programs are beginning to model themselves after us. Our emphasis on the highest quality clinical care, a cutting-edge research program and the innovative treatment of heart disease has earned us this recognition. We expect and intend to make the top 10 over the next few years,” Vaughan said.

Vanderbilt's Gynecology program continued its strong run by breaking into the top 10 this year — just two years ago, the program was ranked 47th in the nation.

“Over the last two years Obstetrics and Gynecology has seen a lot of growth and change,” said Nancy Chescheir, M.D., chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We have terrific physicians, advanced practice nursing, residents, fellows and nursing partners. We have felt the high quality and forward momentum...and it's a real honor to have the national acknowledgment of our progress. It's fabulous to see our hard work receive this recognition.”

RTI International, Research Triangle Park, N.C., compiled all hospital data and developed 2007 rankings on behalf of U.S. News.

Johns Hopkins Hospital once again led the magazine's 18-hospital “Honor Roll,” ranking in 15 of the 16 specialties.

The magazine issue of “America's Best Hospitals 2007” will be available on newsstands July 16.

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