By Jennifer Larson, contributor
June 14, 2012 - The U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the top pediatric hospitals is always closely inspected by people interested in children’s health issues. This year’s list of Best Children’s Hospitals included 80 different facilities that ranked in the top 50 among 10 specialties.
The list also includes an Honor Roll of the overall top hospitals; this year’s list consists of a dozen of the best known children’s hospitals in the nation, with consistent track records of excellence and innovation. These hospitals have achieved numerous top rankings in multiple specialties and have pledged to keep forging a path toward even better patient care in the future. And they believe that there is always room for improvement.
“Our work will never be done,” said Kelly Johnson, Ph.D.c, MSN, RN, CRRN, vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer for Children’s Hospital Colorado, which ranked No. 8 on the Honor Roll.
Innovation as a core value
A key hallmark of the top children’s hospitals is their desire to constantly look for new and creative ways to deliver better and safer care to their young patients.
For example, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, often referred to as CHOP, is converting two inpatient units to “innovation units.” Scheduled to launch July 1, these units will enable teams to test models of communication, standardization of care, collaboration and others to determine what is most effective.
Madeline Bell, chief operating officer at CHOP, said that the 3,000 nurses who work at CHOP "don't just do the tasks of nursing. They really partner with the family."
“We’re going to test a number of different hypotheses in those units to see if they do actually improve some of the outcomes…and if they do, spread them to other areas” in the hospital, said Madeline Bell, executive vice president and chief operating officer of CHOP, which tied with Boston Children’s Hospital for the top ranking on the Honor Roll.
The people who make it happen
Like many first-rate hospitals, CHOP has state-of-the-art facilities, top-notch equipment and cutting-edge research, Bell noted. But it’s really the people who deserve the most credit for her hospital’s sustained excellence.
“The people who work here, from the environmental services workers to the world-renowned physicians, are all singularly focused on the mission,” Bell said. “Here everyone is unified around children.”
That commitment, that passion for caring for children, is what drives everyone who comes to work at CHOP, she added, a sentiment also expressed by leaders of other top pediatric hospitals.
Emily Weber, MSN, director of nursing at Texas Children’s Hospital, noted that her facility includes family members on advisory boards so they can give feedback on what matters most to patients' families.
“At the end of the day, it’s really about the great people and the great programs we have,” agreed Emily Weber, MS, RN, CPN, director of nursing at Texas Children’s Hospital, which ranked No. 4 overall.
The nursing staff is frequently mentioned as a core element to success. Almost all of the top hospitals have received Magnet recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which highlights their demonstrated commitment to nursing excellence.
“The nurse is central to advocating for the unique need of each child and family,” said Susan Heath, RN, MN, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Seattle Children’s Hospital, which is ranked No. 6.
By hiring and retaining excellent nurses and other professionals, the hospital is able to tap into that excellence and shape a vision to do the best for every child who comes there. “So this collective energy and understanding about what it looks like to be the best keeps us moving forward in improving and delivering better and better quality of care,” Heath said.
Teamwork and collaboration
As the practice of interprofessional collaboration gains more attention on a larger scale, many hospitals have found ways to implement practices that encourage doctors, nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, dietitians, social workers and other professionals to work together and share their expertise and ideas in order to give the best possible care to their patients.
All the leaders of the pediatric hospitals who spoke with NurseZone noted that their hospitals emphasize the importance of teamwork and interdisciplinary collaboration.
Heath explained that the interdisciplinary approach is very visible in a number of Seattle Children’s ambulatory clinics, where various health care providers all sit together in one room. They are able to share feedback all day long about patients and update each other in real time. On the inpatient side, the team that makes rounds is interdisciplinary.
At Children’s Hospital Colorado, the leadership recently revamped the structure of the key councils to make them more interdisciplinary, Johnson said. And other councils were specifically designed to foster more collaboration, such as the nurse--resident council that meets monthly and encourages the nurses and residents to work together on issues common to both.
Texas Children’s is taking collaboration a step further--beyond the border, in fact. Ranked No. 2 in the specialty of neonatology, the hospital has teamed up with a hospital in Monterey, Mexico so that they can share best practices and discuss the best ways to promote a culture of safety.
“That strengthens our program, and it strengthens the other program,” Weber said.
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