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Thursday, July 15, 2010 - VCU Medical Center again ranked in U.S. News Media Group's 2010-2011 Best Hospitals

The Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center on Thursday was ranked in the 2010-2011 Best Hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report, making it one of 152 medical centers nationwide selected out of nearly 2,000 eligible institutions.

Specifically, the VCU Medical Center was noted for excellence in cancer treatment, heart and heart surgery programs, its kidney disease program and physical rehabilitation.

The VCU Medical Center is the only hospital in Central Virginia to be ranked in the top 50. This is the fourth consecutive year that the medical center has been ranked in U.S. News' Best Hospital report.

"When the stakes are high, you want the best care you can get for yourself or someone close to you," said Health Rankings Editor Avery Comarow. "These hospitals are accustomed to seeing the sickest patients day in and day out."

Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and the VCU Health System, said, "The VCU Medical Center's continued ranking as one of America's best hospitals reflects the focus by our  team to discover, innovate and provide quality health care to the Richmond community, the state and the nation.

"Our excellence in scientific and clinical research enables us to bring the latest and best therapies, treatments and cures to our patients very rapidly," Rao said. "The U.S. News' rankings confirm our team's commitment to improving the quality of the lives of our patients."

Sheldon Retchin, M.D., vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System, said the VCU Medical Center "is exceptionally proud of this recognition and what it says about our commitment to teaching, patient care and our relationship with the community.

"It's also gratifying to see the VCU Massey Cancer Center get the recognition it deserves as one of the premier National Cancer Institute-designated institutions in the United States," Retchin added.

The VCU Massey Cancer Center, ranked 38th, is known for its specialized, multidisciplinary teams that provide advanced care for more than 50 types of cancers. It also is widely recognized as a center of excellence in rare and complex cancers. Massey has recognized programs in bone marrow transplantation, national leadership and clinical excellence in breast cancer, and one of the leading radiation biology and oncology programs in the country because of several "firsts" in discoveries of new radiation technologies. Massey also is a national leader in palliative care, and its international-award-winning Thomas Palliative Care Program serves as one of six national training sites.

The heart and heart surgery programs at the VCU Pauley Heart Center ranked 41st this year. The Pauley Heart Center is recognized nationally for its heart failure and heart transplantation programs and was among the first in the country to implant the CardioWest temporary Total Artificial Heart, the only total artificial heart approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Research clinicians currently are working with a national team on the next advancement in artificial heart transplantation. The heart center is made up of the divisions of cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery and pediatric cardiology.

The Division of Nephrology provides specialized care of patients with a variety of kidney disorders and hypertension. The goal of the division is to serve central Virginia's clinical nephrology needs while educating future physicians and remaining at the forefront of kidney disease research. The medical center is among the nation's most active and successful kidney-transplant hospitals, with one of the best patient and graft survival rates in the United States. The VCU Hume-Lee Transplant Center performs more than 140 kidney transplants each year and has performed more than 2,000 kidney transplants and 100 pancreas transplants for Type 1 diabetes. The kidney program was ranked 36th.

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, ranked 20th, is nationally recognized for its leadership role in research and treatment of traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. It is one of just 16 programs designated by the federal government as a Model System of care for individuals with traumatic brain injury. The inpatient rehabilitation program is the oldest in Virginia and is organized around the three specialty teams of brain injury, spinal cord injury and general rehabilitation. The program restores hope, function and quality of life for individuals who have experienced devastating illness or injuries.

"The VCU Medical Center is a unique asset to Central Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region, both as a top-rated provider of specialty and subspecialty care and as a leader in quality and patient safety," said John Duval, CEO of MCV Hospitals. "The U.S. News rankings affirm our commitment to our patients, our people and to advancing medical practice in our commonwealth."

Best Hospitals 2010-11 includes rankings in 16 specialties, comprising cancer; diabetes and endocrinology; ear, nose and throat; gastroenterology; geriatrics; gynecology; heart and heart surgery; kidney disorders; neurology and neurosurgery; ophthalmology; orthopedics; psychiatry; pulmonology; rehabilitation; rheumatology; and urology.

The rankings in 12 of the 16 specialties were driven by hard data such as death rates, procedure volume and balance of nurses and patients. In the four remaining specialties - ophthalmology, psychiatry, rehabilitation and rheumatology - hospitals were ranked on reputation alone. 

To be considered in any of the 12 data-driven specialties, a hospital first had to meet at least one of four criteria: It had to be a teaching hospital, be affiliated with a medical school, have at least 200 beds, or have 100 or more beds and the availability of four or more types of medical technology considered important in a high-quality medical facility, such as a PET/CT scanner and certain precision radiation therapies.

Next, the hospitals had to meet a volume requirement, individually calculated for each specialty. The required volume was the number of Medicare inpatients from 2006 to 2008 who had various specified procedures and conditions in the specialty. A hospital that fell short could still qualify if it had been nominated by at least one physician in any of the U.S. News Best Hospitals reputational surveys conducted in 2008, 2009 and 2010. 

The full list is online at www.usnews.com/besthospitals and featured in the August print issue of U.S. News, available on newsstands July 27.

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