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Three N.J. hospitals listed among area's best in U.S. News rankings

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Three New Jersey hospitals ranked in the top 10 for the New York metro area in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospital rankings released Tuesday.

Hackensack University Medical Center was named the top New Jersey hospital for the third straight year in the U.S. News rankings, with 11 of its clinical specialties ranking with the top 50 hospitals nationwide — more than any other hospital in New Jersey. According to U.S. News, Hackensack is one of only 30 hospitals nationwide with 10 or more nationally ranked specialties.  

Hackensack came in fourth among the New York metro area hospitals, down from third last year, while Morristown Medical Center rose to fifth place on the metro list, from eighth in 2013. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick was 10th on the metro list.

Robert Garrett, chief executive of the Hackensack University Health Network, said Hackensack is in the forefront of efforts by New Jersey hospitals to compete for patients who traditionally have left the state for New York hospitals — which still dominate the metro area list.

Three New York City hospitals — New York Presbyterian Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center  and Mount Sinai Hospital — were the top three in the metro area, followed by Hackensack and Morristown.

Garrett said New Jersey is making inroads on that list: “It’s tough, because you have a lot of big academic medical centers in New York that have really dominated that list for years. But I think that’s changing.”

Morristown has five nationally-ranked specialties, and its president, Dr.  David Shulkin, said, “With the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings showing that Morristown Medical Center now has five specialty areas in the top 50 hospitals in the country, MMC has solidified its role as a pre-eminent medical destination.

“Just four years ago, Morristown broke into the top 50 hospital designation with its rankings in cardiology and heart surgery. Our efforts in bringing national-level physician recruitments and our investments in facilities and technology have resulted in taking our medical center to a new level.”  

This year, Morristown made the top 50 ranking nationally for cardiology and heart surgery, geriatrics, gynecology, orthopedics and pulmonology.

Garrett said he’s not concerned that Hackensack’s metro ranking went from three to four this year; in his view, it’s more significant that Hackensack got 11 national rankings, “which shows the depth and the breadth of our medical center. It is absolutely phenomenal. It is hard enough to be expert in or two or three clinical specialties, but to have 11 is amazing.” 

Garrett added: “Typically, New Jersey hospitals have been in the shadow of either New York or Philadelphia, so it is very significant that New Jersey hospitals are being ranked in the top 10 or the top five in the metro area.”

He said it is also very important that Hackensack is in the top 30 nationally: “When you’ve talked about health care on the national level, there wasn’t a lot of discussion about a particular (New Jersey) hospital or health care system. But now there is.”

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HackensackUMC received national rankings in the following specialties: neurology and neurosurgery in the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital; cancer; cardiology & heart surgery; diabetes & endocrinology; ear, nose & throat; gastroenterology & GI surgery; geriatrics; neurology & neurosurgery; orthopedic; pulmonology; and urology.

Just three percent of the nearly 5,000 hospitals that were analyzed by U.S. News earned national ranking in even one specialty.

Other New Jersey hospitals with top-50 clinical rankings included Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, for cancer; AtlantiCare, for neurology; and the Kessler  Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, for rehabilitation medical care.

Among New Jersey hospitals, Hackensack UMC finished in first place in the rankings, followed by Morristown. Tied for third place were AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, in Atlantic City, and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, in New Brunswick. 

“Earning a place on this prestigious list is the direct result of strong partnerships and the spirit of teamwork that exists among our faculty and community physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and employees,” said Stephen K. Jones, chief executive of  Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson Health System. “We are fortunate to work closely with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and now our team at RWJ Somerset’s Steeplechase Cancer Center to bring residents of our state and region the finest cancer care, research and advanced clinical trials available anywhere in the United States."

Joan Brennan, vice president of quality and performance excellence for AtlantiCare, said: “AtlantiCare focuses on patient safety every day. It is through the collaboration of the physicians on our medical staff, our dedicated and experienced nurses, our pharmacy team and many other AtlantiCare individuals at the bedside and behind the scenes on the clinical team that we continue to deliver the highest levels of care. But what is also critical to patient safety and quality care is involving our patients and their families in their care by making sure they understand their care. Understanding various hospital rankings — especially the data that is used — can help patients make informed decisions about their care.”

Kessler ranked fifth; Saint Peter’s University Hospital, in New Brunswick, sixth, Holy Name Medical Center, in Teaneck, seventh. Tied for eighth place are Jersey Shore University Medical Center, in Neptune, and St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, in Paterson; Newark Beth Israel Medical Center ranked in 10th place.

“Our high ranking in New Jersey by U.S. News & World Report is a reflection of all the best practices provided by everyone who works at Saint Peter’s,” said Dr.  Kenneth N. Sable,  executive vice president and chief operating officer of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System. “This measure of excellence represents the commitment we all have to the patients and families we serve.”

Along with its top-50 clinical rankings, US. News also designates hospitals as “high-performing” in particular clinical specialties. Holy Name Medical Center, which ranked seventh among New Jersey hospitals and 17th in the New York metro area, was recognized as high-performing in nine specialties, including orthopedics, diabetes, gynecology and urology.

"We are honored by this recognition, which reflects our commitment to delivering high quality, compassionate care as efficiently as possible," said Michael Maron, chief executive of Holy Name Medical Center.

Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune was eighth on the New Jersey list, up from ninth last year, and Ocean Medical Center in Brick, which was not ranked last year, was 12th on the New Jersey list this year. Both are part of the Meridian Health system.

Dr. Rick Scott, senior vice president, clinical effectiveness for Meridian, said hospital rankings by U.S. News and other organizations are increasingly influencing patient decisions.

“We pay close attention to the reports and we use them often to drive our performance improvement and our quality team,” Scott said. “And we usually know the data long before we know what our relative ranking is. Often we are well on the way to fixing a number by the time it may be reported.”

He said patients look at multiple sources of information when choosing a hospital, including their doctor’s recommendation, the recommendations of their neighbors and the reports like U.S. News.

“Physicians are well aware that we are now in a new age of transparency of information.” He said there are a number of sources of information about health care available to consumers and “there is no clinician or hospital that has the luxury of ignoring them.”

No New Jersey hospitals made the U.S. News top 10 in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, where the Kennedy University Hospital in Cherry Hill was ranked 14th and Cooper University Health Care in Camden was ranked 17th.

However, U.S. News also named four hospitals as top-ranked in southern New Jersey. They were led by AtlantiCare, ranked nationally for neurology and neurosurgery and recognized for 10 high performing specialties; Ocean Medical Center in Brick, with four high-performing specialties (gastroenterology, geriatrics, neurology, urology); Kennedy, with high-performing specialties in diabetes and endocrinology and geriatrics; and Cooper, recognized for its high-performing diabetes and endocrinology specialty.

“Kennedy University Hospital is honored to be included on the U.S. News & World Report ‘Best Hospitals’ lists for both the Philadelphia Metro region and state of New Jersey,” said Chief Executive Joseph W. Devine. “Kennedy is committed to continuously providing top-quality care, while ensuring the safety of all our patients. To be included on both of these prestigious lists is especially gratifying, and a reflection of our commitment to the communities we serve at our hospitals in Cherry Hill, Stratford and Washington Township.”

Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation was named the second highest-ranked rehabilitation hospital in the nation, after the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Kessler has held the No. 2 spot in the national rankings for nine of the past 10 years. 

Said Kessler President Robert Brehm, “This is a most meaningful acknowledgement of our commitment to deliver the quality care and advanced treatment that enables individuals with stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, orthopedic conditions, amputation, cardiac events, and other injuries or illnesses to rebuild their lives.”

Kessler Chief Medical Officer  Dr. Bruce M. Gans said, “To be ranked second among the more than 1,100 inpatient rehabilitation hospitals and units in the country is important recognition of Kessler’s leadership not only in patient care, but in research, education and advocacy initiatives.”

William A. McDonald,  chief executive of  St. Joseph’s Healthcare System, said the organization is proud to be recognized as ranking eighth in New Jersey and 19th in the New York Metro area.

“This ranking reflects the commitment and expertise of our outstanding physicians, nurses — Magnet Recognized for Excellence for 16 consecutive years — and skilled clinicians who use advanced treatment technologies and effective, innovative practices within sleek new environments of care. “

He said St.  Joseph’s “is an academic organization that not only uses, but teaches leading-edge medicine and best practices to future clinicians in a unique, faith-based culture of caring designed to meet the health care needs of our patients.”

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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