The low point for Women and Children's Hospital came nine and a half years ago, when a consultant recommended that Kaleida Health consider closing what was then called Children's Hospital. Doctors and the community responded to that challenge, and new leadership at Kaleida realized that, while the consultant had raised real issues, closing that hospital would have created a net loss for the hospital system.
Since renewing its focus, it has been a steady climb for the hospital, culminating in its placement last week among the top third of pediatric hospitals rated by U.S. News & World Report in two categories. It placed 48th in pediatric neurology/neurosurgery and 46th in cancer care for children. It marked the first time the hospital had placed among the top 50 by the magazine since 1999.
Magazine ratings of public institutions -- hospitals, colleges and so on -- don't necessarily mean a lot, though they may be a broad indicator of improvement or decline. In that vein, we see this rating as a recognition of the efforts Women and Children's Hospital has made since its crisis in 2002.
Indeed, hospital President Cheryl Klass said the hospital began working to improve those areas seven years ago, focusing on strategic planning, capital investment and physician recruitment. Strengthening those areas was found to be critical not simply to the hospital's improvement, but to its long-term future.
A stronger hospital and the improved reputation generated by such things as the magazine's ratings can help in recruiting the top-notch doctors and staff that make a hospital great. Plainly, the efforts are paying off, and while no one would suggest the hospital rest on these new laurels, this recognition is worth applauding. And there may be more to come.
A new outpatient surgery center for the hospital will take up about 25 percent of a proposed medical building on Main Street between High and Goodrich streets. It is the first step in what could eventually be a new home for the entire hospital, away from its longtime location at Elmwood Avenue and Bryant Street.
The move came after more than a year of study by doctors, and was supported by the pediatric and obstetrical staff and Kaleida Health's governing board.
It's good to see the hospital looking ahead. Few institutions remain static -- they get better or they get worse. Women and Children's Hospital has come a long way since the fight of 2002. Last week's recognition and its plans for the future show that it does not plan to stand still.