For Immediate Release June 26, 2018

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Doctors care for pediatric heart patients at the University of Maryland Children

New ranking reflects commitment to excellence for children who need complex cardiac care

BALTIMORE – The Children’s Heart Program at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH) is ranked among the nation’s top 50 pediatric cardiology and heart surgery centers, according to the 2018-2019 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals. There are nearly 200 qualified pediatric centers in the country.

“For patients and their families, the ranking is a stamp of quality that we are among the very best programs in the world,” says Geoffrey L. Rosenthal, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics, epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and director of the Pediatric & Congenital Heart Program at UMCH. “Most children’s heart programs are not ranked at all. This ranking demonstrates excellence across the entire University of Maryland team caring for children with serious and life-threatening illnesses. The process is rigorous, looking at how well we score on a number of quality measures, and checking our participation in efforts to make care even better.” 

Among national children’s centers, the Children’s Heart Program at UMCH ranks 41st, which represents a broad institutional commitment to the Children’s Heart Program, says Dr. Rosenthal. “We were evaluated not only on the expertise of individual caregivers, but also on the support provided by the University of Maryland Medical Center across the clinical spectrum, from surgery and intensive care to the catheterization and electrophysiology labs, to echocardiography and advanced imaging. The ranking process looked at research efforts at UMSOM, and our work with hospitals throughout the 14-hospital University of Maryland Medical System.”

The process also evaluated other key areas that must work together to ensure the best results for some of the most vulnerable and tiny patients including nursing, social work and child life services, neonatal and pediatric intensive care, anesthesiology and pharmacy.

“The Children’s Heart Program at the University of Maryland is something special,” says Steven J. Czinn, MD, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at UMSOM and director of UMCH. “Receiving a national ranking from the U.S. News & World Report solidifies what we’ve known for years – that our team provides the very best care for children with heart conditions. The recognition helps spread the word that we can help children with heart conditions in Maryland and around the nation.”

“This top 50 ranking means a lot to our entire team, especially given the complexity of care and surgery required in many cases of congenital heart disorders and other surgical needs in patients who come to our center,” says Sunjay Kaushal, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery at UMSOM and director of pediatric cardiac surgery at UMCH.

Dr. Kaushal, who is pioneering research into advancing an FDA-approved allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell transplant effort for the difficult congenital heart disorder, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, says the ranking process included a comparison of pediatric cardiac surgical outomes at UMCH with similar programs across the United States, using data from the Society of Thoracic Surgery Congenital Heart Surgery Database. 

A number of quality-related factors contributed to the ranking. These include: 

  • Magnet hospital designation for nursing quality
  • Dedicated pediatric anesthesiologists, radiologists and intensivists
  • Fellowships in pediatric surgery and pediatric critical care medicine
  • Highest-level neonatal intensive care unit
  • Physician and nurse participation in quality improvement programs
  • Advanced degrees and certifications for the majority of pediatric intensive care nursing staff
  • Psychosocial support structure (social work, child life program, art therapy)

“Congratulations to the entire team at the Children’s Heart Program who has worked tirelessly for many years to achieve this national recognition,” says E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland Baltimore, the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean of UMSOM. “This ranking is a strong endorsement of their excellence. It underscores our deep commitment to excellent bedside care, exhaustive efforts to push the bounds of science in search of new therapeutic and surgical tools and a collaborative approach that invites families to participate in the healing process with their children.”   

Visit the Children’s Heart Program at UMCH for more information.

About the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital
The University of Maryland Children’s Hospital at the University of Maryland Medical Center is recognized throughout Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region as a resource for critically and chronically ill children. UMCH physicians and staff excel in combining state-of-the-art medicine with family-centered care. More than 100 physicians specialize in understanding how to treat conditions and diseases in children, including congenital heart conditions, asthma, epilepsy and gastrointestinal disorders. The Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) provides the highest level of care to the tiniest newborns. To learn more about the University of Maryland Children's Hospital, please visit http://umm.edu/programs/childrens.

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Commemorating its 210th Anniversary, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research.  With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically-based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and nearly $450 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact in excess of $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th-highest public medical school in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu/