UI Health Care maintains elite status, but slips in U.S. News World Report rankings

2017-08-10 | The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Aug. 09--While University of Iowa Health Care again earned top-tier status, according to 2017-18 U.S. News World Report rankings, it has slipped from boasting nine ranked specialties in 2014, to seven in 2015 and 2016, to five this year.

Among its five specialties ranked in the top 50 in the country, according to the new report, two improved slightly -- its ophthalmology rating rose from No. 7 to No. 6, and urology rose from No. 34 to No. 31. Iowa's ear, nose and throat department maintained its elite status at No. 5.

University of Iowa Health Care's cancer ranking fell from No. 34 to No. 40, and orthopedics slipped one notch to No. 17, according to the new rankings. Two UIHC specialties dropped out of the top 50 -- neurology and neurosurgery, along with gynecology.

The university's neurology and neurosurgery specialty was among four for which UIHC earned "high-performing" marks in the new report, along with geriatrics, kidney disorders and nephrology, and pulmonology.

In 2016, U.S. News also gave four UIHC specialties "high-performing" marks -- awarded to programs that did not rank in the top 50 but scored high enough to put them in the top 10 percent.

The U.S. News rankings are widely cited by health care providers and broadly accessed by patients shopping for a doctor -- although the publication notes the highest-ranking hospitals might not be the best choice for a specific patient and should be viewed as a "starting point."

The publication ranks the 50 top-scoring hospitals in 16 specialties primarily using data based on four elements -- survival, patient safety, care-related factors like nurse staffing and patient services, and "expert opinion" obtained through a physician survey.

U.S. News considered 4,658 hospitals for its 2017-18 data-driven rankings, and narrowed that pool to 1,896 hospitals that met the ranking requirements and standards. Across the 16 specialties, 152 hospitals performed well enough to be nationally ranked in at least one specialty.

"To be included in the U.S. News rankings is well-deserved recognition, and to be ranked every year is really outstanding," Jean Robillard, UI vice president for medical affairs and dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine, said in a news release. "Iowans can be proud of the fact that we are consistently named as one of the nation's best."

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, a 761-bed facility that annually admits more than 35,000 patients for inpatient care, reports more than 14,000 employees, students and volunteers collaborate to "provide safe, quality health care."

In 2016, it reported more than 58,000 emergency department visits -- and numbers were trending up this year, according to a recent Board of Regents report. The hospital's daily census has been near capacity for years, and it has been battling a nursing shortage -- relying on hundreds of traveling nurses to fill the gaps.

University of Iowa Health Care in February opened a new $360 million, 14-floor, stand-alone children's hospital -- adding 134 pediatric beds and 507,000 square feet to the UI Hospitals and Clinics main campus. New U.S. News rankings for children's hospitals debuted in June, in which the university also lost ground.

University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital earned top-50 status in six out of 10 pediatric specialties, according to the 2017-2018 rankings. That was down from eight last year and nine two years ago. Among the UI Stead Family Children's Hospital's six ranked specialties, four slipped and two made gains.

Children's Hospital CEO Scott Turner, at the time, said he expects the new facility to result in rating bumps next year.

"We view the facility as a net positive for the strength of our programs," he said. "And hopefully it will be reflected in future releases of the U.S. News World Report top children's hospital rankings."

Among hospitals in Iowa, UI Health Care again earned the top spot, according to the 2017-18 U.S. News report. UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's

Hospital in Cedar Rapids ranked No. 2 in Iowa, also earning "high-performing" marks in seven "adult procedure and conditions."

Earning the No. 3 spot in Iowa was Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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