U Children’s Hospital ranked in top 20

Devin Henry

The University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, Fairview, has been placed in the top 20 in two categories of national children’s hospital rankings conducted by U.S. News and World Report.

According to the report, Fairview is the 18th-best respiratory-care facility among children’s hospitals nationwide. It was also ranked the 19th-best cancer-care children’s facility in the nation, though Fairview did not make the top 30 list for overall pediatrics.

In a statement, Fairview’s Chief Operating Officer Kathie Taranto said the honor was well-earned by the staff of the hospital.

“Our future looks incredibly bright, and these rankings provide us with even more incentive to keep raising (the) bar,” she said.

The rankings include six different categories: cancer, digestive disorders, respiratory disorders, neurology and neurosurgery, heart and heart surgeries and neonatal care. There is also an overall best in the general pediatrics category.

Aaron Friedman, head of pediatrics and professor at the University, said the ratings honor distinctive styles in health care.

Hospitals’ high ratings, Friedman said, “reflect not only their ability to provide top-notch clinical care, but it also reflects their bringing in new knowledge to patients to families and to the rest of their communities.”

The rankings were based on surveys sent to 1,100 pediatricians. About half responded, according to the report.

The final rankings weighed hospital reputation heavily into the final score, a fact not missed by Friedman.

“Our job over the next few years is to make our case in other areas to be sure that people not only inside the Twin Cities, inside Minnesota, but across the country are aware of the things that we do here,” he said. “You have to blow your own horn.”

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was ranked first for overall pediatrics and first in three of the six categories.

Although two Minnesota hospitals were included in the 2007 top 30 pediatrics category, none were included in the 2008 rankings.

Friedman, who is in his first year with the University, said one of his focuses will be to push Fairview into top-30 contention.

Between 2006 and 2007, Fairview saw an increase in many of their key areas, including surgical cases and emergency room visits, according to statistics on their Web site.

“Part of what we have to do is make sure that the overall programming that we provide is consistent with what it is that others provide that are in that top 30,” he said, noting that Fairview provides care in some fashion in all ranked categories.

“Part of the way that you get into those top 30 numbers is by breadth and not only by depth, and by having a variety of programs,” Freidman said.

Bruce Steiger and his 2-year-old daughter Krystie Karl-Steiger stand behind Fairview’s care. Krystie has Tay-Sachs, a disease so rare and fatal that only a handful of hospitals in the country even consider treating it, Steiger said.

Fairview chose to use an experimental treatment to try and help her, Steiger said.

“We talked to other hospitals back home in California and they just said, ‘take her home and make her comfortable,’ ” Steiger said. “Here, they’re at least trying.”

Krystie, Steiger and her other father Rick Karl have been at Fairview for more than a year. They hope to go home sometime this summer. In the meantime, Steiger said Fairview’s personal touch is nice.

“She gets such good care, and she’s a high priority for the doctors here,” he said. “They all know her, and everybody knows us.”