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Women & Children's earns national distinctions; U.S. News & World Report ranks facility in top 50 in 2 categories

Women & Children's Hospital was placed among the top third of pediatric hospitals in two categories by U.S. News & World Report in its upcoming special edition of "Best Children's Hospitals."

The issue, which hits newsstands Tuesday, ranked the hospital 48th in pediatric neurology/neurosurgery and 46th in cancer care for children. The magazine ranked hospitals in 10 specialty categories. It asked 177 hospitals to participate in the 2011-2012 rankings, out of almost 500 children's hospitals nationally.

Women & Children's placement marked the first time it has been listed among the top 50 by the magazine since 1999, when the survey was based on pediatrician perceptions. The current ranking is data-driven. The magazine used a 100-page survey that took into account clinical and patient information such as patient outcomes, mortality rates and patient satisfaction.

"We know we deliver wonderful, strong clinical care to our patients, but to have this recognized nationally is very special to the entire team," said Cheryl Klass, hospital president.

The distinction for the neurology department, led by Dr. Arie Weinstock, and the neurosurgery department, headed by Dr. Veetai Li, included special mention for outstanding surgical survival rates in neurosurgery.

The recognition for the hospital's cancer care, which is led by Dr. Martin Brecher, especially noted the high survival rate for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia patients.

Klass said the hospital set out seven years ago to bolster each area through strategic planning, capital investment and physician recruitment.

Those areas were found lacking, and strengthening them was seen as vital to sustaining the hospital for the future.

Several families were on hand Thursday when the hospital celebrated its recognition by the magazine.

Lindsey Briggs told how her 9-year-old daughter, Marta Briggs, who has multiple sclerosis, has benefited enormously from the hospital's care and treatment.

"We were given a lot of answers, we have a treatment plan now and my daughter is running around just like a normal child. I couldn't be happier," Briggs said, as Marta, who is in a gifted program at school, smiled cheerfully at her side.

The Briggses live in Lyons, between Rochester and Syracuse, requiring them to drive two hours to the hospital.

"We know other families who take a longer trip to receive this special care. We're very happy [for Women & Children's], and we're not surprised they're getting this award," Briggs said.

Emma Golden, 3, of Lawtons, near North Collins, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer that started on her adrenal gland, which was removed surgically along with the tumor.

Emma has had induction chemotherapy, radiation, cell transplants and is now receiving antibodies.

She has been successful through the first two phases of treatment, which continue to November.

"She's a trouper," said Lea Golden, Emma's mother, as her daughter sat among her three brothers and sisters.

"The treatment has been phenomenal, added Kyle, Emma's father. "They've done such a great job, and we're very thankful to them and all of the staff."

email: msommer@buffnews.com