Recent National Rankings Cite Vermont’s Achievements in Children’s Health
- By Jennifer Nachbur
Two recent national reports – the 2013-14 U.S. News & World Report Children’s Hospital Rankings and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book – highlight Vermont’s successes in regards to the health of the state’s children. A number of initiatives, as well as the existence of Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care, have contributed to these achievements.
Pediatrics is among the most popular specialties for graduating University of Vermont College of Medicine seniors. In fact, 18 members of the Class of 2013 have gone on to pursue residencies in this field, due largely in part to the excellence of the pediatricians and specialists they have an opportunity to train with at Fletcher Allen. In addition, the UVM College of Medicine and Department of Pediatrics is home to the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program (VCHIP), which has a mission to optimize the health of Vermont's children and families by initiating and supporting measurement-based efforts to enhance private and public child health practice and inform policy.
U.S. News & World Report cited two pediatric specialties – pulmonology and gastroenterology care – at Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care as being among the best in the nation. The magazine’s health care experts determined that these two specialties rank at or near the top 25 percent of pediatric centers nationwide, qualifying Vermont Children’s for the magazine’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” list. Vermont Children’s is the only children’s hospital identified on the list for the region including northern New England and northern New York state. U.S. News surveyed 179 pediatric centers to obtain clinical data in 10 specialties and asked 150 pediatric specialists in each specialty where they would send the sickest children for the 2013-14 rankings.
In addition, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s The 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book, has ranked Vermont as second in the nation for overall child well-being. This annual report – now in its 24th year – tracks the well-being of America’s children by state using 16 key indicators in the areas of education, economic well-being, health and family and community.
“We really strive to provide the highest quality, cost-effective patient- and family-centered care,” says Lewis First, M.D., University of Vermont professor and chair of pediatrics and chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital, in a Fletcher Allen video regarding news of the rankings. “I congratulate all of our expert providers and staff in pulmonology and gastroenterology, along with our entire team at Vermont Children’s, who dedicate themselves to ensuring their patients receive the best quality of care possible.”
“We’re very proud that parents in our region can be confident their children are receiving care as good as can be found anywhere in the country,” says John Brumsted, M.D., Fletcher Allen president and chief executive officer and UVM professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.
“Our goal at U.S. News is to identify the pediatric centers which excel at helping the sickest children,” says Health Rankings Editor Avery Comarow. “Vermont Children’s Hospital deserves high praise for having the reservoir of expertise reflected in this recognition.”
According to the Casey Foundation, “a child’s chances of thriving depend not just on individual, familial and community characteristics, but also on the state in which she or he is born and raised.” To develop the Data Book, the organization derives “a composite index of overall child well-being for each state by combining data across the four domains: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health and (4) Family and Community. These composite scores are then translated into a single state ranking for child well-being.” A June 24, 2013 article in the Burlington Free Press states “The Data Book is a tool for looking at the state’s progress over time and in comparison with the rest of the nation.” This year, New Hampshire ranked first in overall child well-being, followed by Vermont and then Massachusetts in third place.
In collaboration with the Vermont Department of Health and Fletcher Allen, VCHIP partners with the Vermont Chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians, as well as the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) to develop and plan future initiatives, as well as support current projects. Since 1999, VCHIP has been empowering professionals to improve health care by providing systemic expertise, practical support, and quantitative evaluation. The success of VCHIP is largely dependent upon the strength of the program’s interdisciplinary collaboration with public and private entities that shape children’s health care.
“Our partnerships with VCHIP have been invaluable,” says a senior administrator for the State of Vermont Agency of Human Services. “They have worked to promote early developmental screening and integrated approaches to family support, and have helped the state transform research-based activities into everyday program expectations that support families and their children before they get swept up in a crisis.”
“Vermont has a long and strong history of collaboration across the health and social delivery systems that strive to improve outcomes for children and families,” says VCHIP Executive Director Judy Shaw, Ed.D., M.P.H., R.N. “VCHIP is proud of being part of these efforts and providing leadership in quality improvement in the provision of healthcare in this state.”
Find more information about U.S. News & World Report’s full rankings and methodology. The rankings will also be published in the publication’s “Best Hospitals 2013” guidebook, which will be available in August 2013.
(Michael Carrese of Fletcher Allen Health Care’s Marketing and Communications office, and Patricia Berry, M.P.H., of VCHIP, contributed to this article.)