I wasn’t surprised when I got the press release telling me U.S. News & World Report ranked Children’s Hospital of Michigan among the nation’s best children’s hospitals in eight pediatric specialties for 2015-16. I’ve done two blogs on Children’s that showed me first-hand the love, passion, compassion and professionalism the hospital shows for each and every patient.
Fifteen-year-old Christopher Rodriquez experienced it when he came from Mexico to be part of an investigational treatment option that could fight his neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer that develops in the nerve tissue outside of the central nervous system.
The disease was first diagnosed when he was nine. It went into remission and then came back full force last year and Christopher is now stage 4. The hospitals in Mexico could do no more and his dad, Guillermo, contacted several hospitals, including Children’s, for help. While other hospitals took quite a while to get back to him, Dr. Maxim Yankelevich, an oncologist on staff at the Children’s, wrote back in 24 hours. That’s the rule here. No more than 24 hours to get back to people.
Christopher and his dad made their first trip to Children’s in January. In a five-and-a-half-hour procedure they took 4-6 billion white cells from his body that would be turned into T-killer cells and used to fight his cancer. By mid-February he was back at Children’s to begin his treatment and those T-killer cells were pumped back into his body. It’s was a long, arduous process but the doctors and nursing staff were with him the entire way.
Christopher, his dad, his family and the doctors know there is no guarantee but as Dr. Yankelevich says, “Hope is the important thing.”
Hope is what I discovered talking with Dr. Steven Lipshultz for another blog. He specializes in pediatric cardiology and is Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s pediatrician-in-chief and Wayne State University School of Medicine Chair of Pediatrics. Those are big-time titles but eHeDr. Lipshultz is first and foremost a pediatrician with a passion for helping sick kids get better and go on to live healthy lives.
His biggest concerns today are heart problems that develop later in life among children who have had chemotherapy, the affect energy drinks have on children and the damage anti-HIV medicines can cause to fetal hearts. He is doing data-drive research on all three often in collaboration with Wayne State University.
His passion for his work and compassion for and devotion to his patients was clearly evident as I sat across his desk during our interview. With each new subject he asked me to scoot around so he could show me the data on his computer so I would better understand what he was doing. As we talked it was clear the data was more than just a bunch of numbers. It represented saving a life or making a life better.
It’s doctors like Lipshultz and Yankelevich and so many others as well as committed nurses and staff that won Children’s Hospital of Michigan national rankings.
“This national recognition reflects our commitment to bring the very best, compassionately delivered and quality-driven medical care to children and their loved ones in this community and to all the patients we serve from around the world,” said Lipshultz. “This affirms the expertise of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in providing advanced patient care to some of the most seriously ill and medically complex children, who often have rare illnesses from before birth to young adulthood.”
Children’s Hospital ranked nationally in: cancer, cardiology & heart surgery, gastroenterology & GI surgery, neurology & neurosurgery, nephrology, orthopedics, pulmonology, and urology. It also received the highest ranking of any pediatric hospital in Michigan for cancer, neurology & neurosurgery, and nephrology.
The hospital’s score relied on patient outcomes and care-related resources. U.S. News garnered clinical data from a detailed questionnaire sent to 184 pediatric hospitals. A sixth of the score came from annual surveys of pediatric specialists and subspecialists in each specialty in 2013, 2014 and 2015. They were asked where they would send the sickest children in their specialty, setting aside considerations of location and expense.
“Our work is not done,” Lipshultz added. “We drive toward excellence every single day and constantly seek to improve.”