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Buffalo General rated No. 15 in state in U.S. News ranking of hospitals

Kaleida Health’s Buffalo General Medical Center is rated in a tie for the 15th best hospital in New York State in the latest U.S. News & World Report national rankings of hospitals.

That was the sole bright spot for the region’s hospitals in the 2016-17 U.S. News rankings of the nation’s best hospitals, which are being released Tuesday.

Buffalo General was the only facility in the Buffalo metro area rated a “Best Regional Hospital” by U.S. News, and no Western New York hospital was ranked nationally for a specialty.

Roswell Park Cancer Institute fell out of the top 50 cancer hospitals this year, after U.S. News ranked the cancer center 43rd last year and 50th the year before.

U.S. News started with a pool of 4,667 non-federal medical facilities that it whittled down to the 2,259 that met its standards for the rankings. Across the 16 specialty categories, 153 hospitals performed well enough to be nationally ranked in one or more specialties.

U.S. News’ methodology for the rankings relies on factors including patient death rates, patient safety, the number of Medicare patients, nurse staffing levels – all of which are objective measures, and make up about 75 percent of a hospital’s score – and a reputation survey of physicians, which makes up the remaining one-quarter of the score.

Experts advise patients to use the list only as a starting point to make health care choices.

Buffalo General tied for 15th with White Plains Hospital out of the 25 ranked hospitals in New York. New York-Presbyterian University Hospital /Columbia and Weill Cornell in Manhattan was ranked No. 1 in the state.

Buffalo General was rated high performing in the specialty of neurology and neurosurgery but otherwise was unranked or ineligible in the other specialties. The hospital did receive high-performing overall rankings for certain procedure areas.

Kaleida Health officials noted that because U.S. News uses Medicare data as the foundation of its rankings, the rating really is for Kaleida Health as a whole, because the federal government reports financial and patient data for the system as a whole and not for each individual hospital.

“This is certainly good news and validation that our organization continues to move in the right direction. More importantly, it is independent recognition of the tremendous care that is delivered by our physicians, nurses and staff at all of our facilities,” Jody L. Lomeo, Kaleida president and CEO, said in a statement.

U.S. News released its rankings for pediatric hospitals in June and Kaleida Health’s Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo was not ranked overall nor in any individual specialty.

Roswell Park has seen its U.S. News ranking fluctuate over the last two decades, rising as high as No. 5 in 1994 but falling out of the Top 50 in 2004 and 2006.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for the second year in a row ranked No. 1 out of 902 hospitals that provide cancer care and were analyzed by U.S. News. Several downstate cancer hospitals made the top 50: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, at No. 2; New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, at No. 17; NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, at No. 33; and Mount Sinai Hospital, at No. 38.

Roswell Park officials said the hospital was hamstrung because a greater percentage of its patients receive coverage through managed Medicare or commercial insurers and would not show up in the Medicare data U.S. News relies on for its rankings, compared to other cancer centers.

Candace Johnson, Roswell Park’s president and CEO, said the hospital lost its nurse magnet status because of changes in leadership at the hospital from the top – Johnson took over on a permanent basis in 2015 – down to the nurse manager level, and that likely played a role in the drop in the cancer center’s ranking.

“A few tenths of a point, either way, can make a difference,” said Dr. Boris Kuvshinoff II, Roswell Park’s chief medical officer.

Johnson said the physician survey that accounts for about a quarter of the hospital’s score is subjective but shows that Roswell Park has work to do to improve its reputation and profile outside this region.

“It’s disappointing and frustrating. You can say all you want to about these rankings and point out the sort of flaws in them. But the fact is that they’re out there,” Johnson said. “While there are flaws in this methodology, and we have struggled with this and tried to make this better, we have to do what we can do to get on this list next year.”


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