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6.03.2010

Holtz Children’s Hospital Ranks Among the Best

For the second year in a row, Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center stands among the best children’s hospitals in the nation, earning two spots on U.S. News & World Report’s prestigious list of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.”

Holtz was ranked 24th in the nation for its care of children with diabetes or other endocrine disorders and earned the No. 25 spot for its neonatology program. Both programs have been world renowned for delivering cutting-edge care and exceptional outcomes for decades.

“This is a great honor,” said Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., associate executive dean for child health at the UM Miller School of Medicine and chief of staff of Holtz Children’s Hospital. “We were first eligible for these rankings last year, and both years we’ve had multiple programs ranked. Last year, it was our kidney program and neonatology; this year it is our diabetes and endocrinology program, and neonatology. There is no other center in Florida that has had more ranked top programs in the last two years than the three we’ve had.”

Joseph J. Frassica, M.D., chief medical officer of Holtz, chief medical information officer for Jackson Health System, and associate chair for clinical affairs in the Miller School Department of Pediatrics, coordinated the massive effort to collect the statistical data needed for the rigorous evaluation. He said the recognition belongs to many.

“This recognition reflects the strengths of our Holtz Children’s Hospital faculty and our extraordinary staff as well as the strength of our partnership with the Public Health Trust in providing care to the sickest children with the most complex medical conditions in South Florida,” Frassica said.

Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School, and Eneida O. Roldan, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., president and chief executive officer of Jackson Health System, echoed their sentiments.

“Helping sick children become healthy and lead productive lives is the most rewarding priority of the Miller School of Medicine, and we are honored that these rankings reflect our commitment,” the Dean said. “We and families in South Florida and beyond are very lucky that our pediatric specialists and the dedicated staff at Holtz Children’s Hospital are providing the best care possible for children who need it the most.”

“This is an important honor for the physicians, nurses and entire medical team at Holtz Children’s Hospital and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine,” Roldan said. “We are very proud of the cutting-edge treatments, medical expertise and compassionate care we provide to children in South Florida and from around the world.”

The rankings, which can be found online today at www.usnews.com/childrenshospitals and will be featured in the August issue of U.S. News, are calculated by weighing a three-part blend of reputation, outcome and care-related measures, such as nursing care, infection rates, patient volume, advanced technology, credentialing, and other factors.

Led by Gary Berkovitz, M.D., professor of pediatrics and chief of the division of pediatric endocrinology, the diabetes and endocrinology service is among the busiest in the nation, conducting more than 6,000 out-patient visits a year and specializing in a multidisciplinary approach to evaluating and managing the care of children with diabetes, obesity, and disorders of sexual development and growth. One of the Miller School’s legendary, landmark programs, its leadership performed the first transplant of a thymus gland into a child born without one in 1968.

“What makes us special is our collaborations in the division,” Berkovitz said. “All members in the division work as an integrated team in the evaluation and management of patients with complex endocrine disorders. We also participate actively in the management of endocrine problems of children with other disorders, for instance with kids who have been transplanted.”

Nowhere is that interdisciplinary approach more evident than in the pediatric diabetes clinic at the Mailman Center for Child Development, directed by Janine Sanchez, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics. Children newly diagnosed with diabetes and their families don’t just see an endocrinologist, but also patient educators, nutritionists, psychologists and other specialists who tend to all their needs – at any hour.

“We are always available to help our patients,” Sanchez said. “We stay in close contact with them to adjust their diets, their medications, etc. We try to design the best diabetes care plan for each patient.”

Founded more than three decades ago by Eduardo Bancalari, M.D., professor of pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, Holtz’s Project Newborn Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has 126 beds, 66 of them Level III, and is among the largest and most successful in the world. Dramatic advances in newborn care have improved outcomes for countless low-birth weight infants, particularly those with severe pulmonary diseases. Because of this the unit was selected as one of three centers nationally as a benchmark to prevent broncho-pulmonary dysplasia through the NIH Neonatal Research Network.

One of 11 designated regional perinatal intensive care centers in Florida, the unit has substantially better survival and morbidity rates in extremely premature infants when compared to the national database of Vermont Oxford participating hospitals.

“One of the bigger problems facing premature infants is that their lungs are not fully developed. So, in early life, their lungs may be damaged by the very therapies they need to survive. Children who survive these early challenges can grow up with debilitating chronic lung disease,” Lipshultz noted. “However, at Holtz, our outcomes are significantly better than the national average and among the best in the world because Dr. Bancalari and his group have pioneered several methods to protect the lungs of premature infants.”

Bancalari credited the excellent clinical results “to the combination of a very experienced faculty and staff, the close collaboration between neonatologists and obstetricians and the continuous research activities aimed at improving the outcomes of our patients.”

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