U' hospital system earns No. 8 spot in U.S. News rankings

BY LINDA CHOO
For the Daily
Published July 21, 2002

In its annual rankings of the nation's best hospitals released last week, U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Michigan Health System eighth on its list, one down from last year's ranking.

U.S. News compiled an "honor roll" of 17 hospitals with Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic heading the list.

In addition, hospitals were ranked in 17 different specialties, including cancer, digestive disorders and hormonal disorders.

The rankings were based on an evaluation of factors such as reputation among board-certified physicians, mortality statistics, the ratio of nurses to beds, technology services, the number of discharges and discharge planning services. A hospital's overall performance in these specialties determined whether or not it made the "honor roll."

The highest ranking for the University in any specialty was for ear, nose, and throat at no. 4. Medical Prof. Charles Koopmann said his department is strong in all areas.

"We have great depth in patient care, resident training and research," he said. "We're very successful in all three aspects."

In addition to ear, nose and throat, the U-M Health System ranked in the top 10 for cancer, respiratory disorders and geriatrics.

Internal medicine Prof. Jeffrey Halter, director of the University Geriatrics Center, said he is proud of the hard work the University has been doing in the geriatrics field. UMHS provides four out of the seven geriatric programs evaluated in the rankings.

"Our hospital has been a leader ... in terms of supporting and developing new programs for the care of older people. It's nice to see that those activities are recognized nationally," he said.

UMHS also improved its rankings from last year in six specialty areas:
cancer; digestive disorders; ear, nose, and throat; gynecology; respiratory disorders; rheumatology, which all ranked in the top 11.

The lowest ranking in any specialty was for heart and heart surgery at
no. 42.

In terms of making further improvements, Gilbert Omenn, executive vice president for medical affairs, noted that several clinical facility expansions are in the works, including a cardiovascular center. "We established the U of M cardiovascular center during the past two years," he said. "We have expanded clinical and research services, and we are well along in planning a major new facility (for the center)."

Halter said the hospital will soon begin a new program focused on delirium, a complication of surgery affecting older people.

He said UMHS can always "strive to do better" as far the services it provides to the community, adding that the hospitals are working "to review how its services are provided and to be innovative, provide the best possible care, and make sure the care is delivered in the safest manner possible."

Although the U-M Health System is down a notch from seventh last year, Omenn said that "seventh, eighth and ninth rankings are almost precisely equivalent."

"Staying in the top 10 year-to-year and improving our scores are good
goals," he added.