Valley Children's Ranked One of the Nation's Best Children's Hospitals in Four Specialties


U.S. News & World Report has ranked Valley Children’s Hospital as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country in four pediatric specialties in the new 2018-2019 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings released today. Valley Children’s ranked in NeonatologyPediatric OrthopedicsPediatric Diabetes & Endocrinology and Pediatric Gastroenterology & Gastrointestinal Surgery.

“These U.S. News & World Report rankings are a true recognition of trust in our organization by the communities we serve throughout the region,” says Valley Children’s Healthcare President and CEO Todd Suntrapak. “This is a tremendous honor for our doctors, nurses and staff. Most importantly, it is the culmination of our team’s continuous and daily dedication to improving our craft, to meeting higher and higher quality and safety standards and to helping kids get back to being well.”

U.S. News introduced the Best Children’s Hospital rankings in 2007 to help families of children with rare or life-threatening illnesses find the best medical care available. They are the only comprehensive source of quality-related information on U.S. pediatric centers. The 12th annual rankings highlight the top 50 U.S. pediatric facilities.

“The U.S. News Best Children’s Hospitals highlight pediatric centers that deliver state-of-the-art medical care to children with complex conditions,” said Ben Harder, chief of health analysis at U.S. News. “Children with life-threatening or rare conditions need the level of quality care that these hospitals deliver day after day.”

Valley Children’s Hospital has the only regional Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) – the highest level NICU possible – in Central California. The 88-bed NICU is a specially designed nursery that offers the most advanced, 24/7 care and monitoring for fragile infants. Under the leadership of Chief of Newborn Medicine Dr. Jeffrey Pietz and Valley Children’s Hospital NICU Medical Director Dr. Mario Rojas, our onsite, board-certified, experienced neonatal specialists cover the full range of pediatric medicine and coordinate with nurses and other staff specially trained in the unique needs of infants. Valley Children’s also provides Level II and Level III neonatal intensive care for newborns and infants at partner hospitals in Fresno, Merced and Hanford.

Valley Children’s pediatric orthopaedic surgery department, led by Medical Director Dr. Joseph Gerardi, is the only specialized practice of its kind in Central California, performing more than 2,200 surgeries and caring for children more than 32,000 times annually. From infants to young adults, the multi-disciplinary team delivers outstanding care to children facing everything from fractures to congenital deformities (including spinal problems and clubfoot) to neuromuscular diseases. Valley Children’s is also the first hospital in the region to use the EOS imaging system, innovative technology that provides full-body 3D images while exposing children to significantly less radiation than traditional X-rays.

The endocrinology team, under the direction of Medical Director Dr. Nedim Çakan, cares for more than 10,000 children each year. The pediatric specialists treat common problems such as short stature, early or late puberty and diabetes, along with very rare and complex cases such as thyroid or pituitary tumors. The Pediatric Diabetes Care Center at Valley Children’s sees more than 1,500 children with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes each year. It is recognized by the American Diabetes Association and has one of the biggest educator groups in the nation. The specialists work together with diabetes and endocrinology nurses, dietitians, social workers, families and school nurses to improve the life of children throughout the region.

Dr. Marvin Ament, a world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist considered by many to be one of the founders of the specialty, developed Valley Children’s gastroenterology team into the leading experts in this field. The pediatric gastroenterologists at Valley Children’s use state-of-the-art technology to treat complex and common gastrointestinal and nutrition disorders, training other pediatric specialists on procedures like endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (or ERCP), a minimally invasive procedure that repairs complex digestive problems without subjecting a child to major surgery. Valley Children’s pediatric surgery team, led by Medical Director Dr. Michael Allshouse, works with the gastroenterology department on complex cases that require surgical intervention. Of the 3,100 general surgeries they performed last year, 1,700 were for digestive system disorders.

“We care for some of the most medically complex kids in the state and these rankings are testaments to the fact that our families receive among the best pediatric medical attention in the country,” says Dr. David Christensen, Valley Children’s senior vice president, medical affairs and chief physician executive. “This record number of U.S. News rankings for Valley Children’s reflects the innovative and family-centered care we deliver each and every day, and we know we can do even better in the years to come.”

“These awards are as much about our families as they are about Valley Children’s,” adds Mr. Suntrapak. “We wouldn’t be here today without the communities we serve and without the trust of the families who bring their children to us. We wouldn’t be the nationally ranked organization we are without that constant reaffirmation by the families we serve to always do better.”

The U.S. News Best Children’s Hospitals rankings rely on clinical data and an annual survey of pediatric specialists. Survival rates, adequacy of nurse staffing, procedure volume and much more can be viewed here. The rankings will be published in the U.S. News “Best Hospitals 2019” guidebook, available for sale in September. 

How U.S. News determines the rankings

Whether and how high a hospital ranks depends on its showing in three areas: outcomes, process and structure. Each area makes up one-third of a hospital’s score.

Outcomes: These data reflect a hospital’s ability to keep children alive, keep children safe from harm by protecting them from infections and surgical complications, and improve quality of life for children with chronic conditions.

Process: This measure evaluates how well and efficiently a hospital goes about the day-to-day business of delivering care. This is determined in part by compliance with widely endorsed “best practices,” such as regular morbidity and mortality conferences to explore unanticipated deaths or complications, and commitment to infection control, such as having a staff “infection preventionist” and tracking the correct use of antibiotics prior to surgery.

However, having a program in place is not the same as having a program that succeeds. So 16.7 percent of a hospital’s score – half of the 33.3 percent weight for process – relies on the opinions of pediatric specialists collected through an annual survey.

Structure: This category reflects resources that a hospital makes available to patients. Examples range from the number of on-staff nurses, to the availability of surgery for heart defects, specialized clinics for children with diabetes or kidney disease, and services for families that ease the anxiety of a child’s hospital stay.

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