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Top Ten Children's Hospitals in the Country

When children are seriously ill, parents want the best care possible for them. The February issue of Child magazine reveals the results of the survey to uncover the ten best children's hospitals in the country.


Miriam Arond is the editor-in-chief of the magazine and is here to tell us more.


Interview with Miriam Arond



When your magazine first started researching children's hospitals for this top-ten list, some pediatricians didn't particularly like the idea of putting together such a list. Why?


It's understandable because they have become used to surveys in the past that were really popularity polls. Therefore, they are tentative about surveys like this. We set out to do a survey that was based on hard data. So, this was not just asking people what they thought were great hospitals. This took many months to do. We were essentially looking for the creme de la creme of children's hospitals and evaluated them further. We were looking at aspects that the independent organization did not look at such as how much support groups they had for parents and children and the types of support groups. We considered support groups that helped patients with cardiac problems, oncology problems, eating and mental health problems to domestic violence issues and diabetes. We also looked at how well trained the people who worked with these families on these issues were.


We also took into account the quality of what was called Child Life Programs. These are programs in hospitals that address the emotional needs of the child. They were looking for a kid-family friendly environment. Some hospitals may have services available two to three times a week and others have them twenty-four times a week. We were looking at both the hard medical data and success rate in child cardiac, and oncology, etc. But we also looked at the hospital's emotional sensitivity to children's needs.


It is important to point out that if a hospital is not on this list, it doesn't mean that it's not good. I don't want any of the viewers to think the care they are getting is not any good. There are a lot of good hospitals. We wanted to champion those hospitals that are really going the extra step, not only providing excellent medical treatment, but good family sensitive care. Being in a hospital can feel like a very isolating experience and frightening to a child. These are hospitals that will help a parent stay with a child. This is very important for very young children."


Here some things said about the top three children's hospitals:


  1. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.


    It is the oldest pediatric hospital in the country and it's still on the cutting edge for new treatment. It received $37.9 million dollars for research from the National Institute's of Health (NIH), which allows it to run about 700 clinical trials. It has one of the highest survival rates for childhood cancers. They distribute free bike helmets to childrewho are involved in accidents. One hundred percent of their staff is board-certified in children's medicine.


  2. Children's Hospital in Boston


    They are the primary training hospital for pediatricians at Harvard Medical School. In 1999, they were awarded the largest NIH grant among children's hospitals. They have hundreds of clinical trials taking place. They boast the highest survival rate for a type of childhood leukemia called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer. In regard to catering to children's needs, they employ Big Apple Circus clowns to juggle and perform tricks in children's hospital rooms. One hundred percent of their staff is board-certified in pediatrics.


  3. Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle.


    It has an excellent affiliation with the University of Washington School of Medicine, one of the top four pediatric training programs in the country. It is also a partner with the Fred Hutchinson Center in Seattle, leader in bone marrow transplants. They have created medical equipment for dialysis that children can use at home instead of at the hospital. They are in the midst of enlarging their rooms so that a whole family can spend the night with a child.



One of the reasons we put this list together is to raise the consciousness of parents so they know what to look for when choosing a hospital. They should ask about support groups for the children and the parents and about the Child Life Program. They should find out what the hospital is doing specifically to make it fun. For instance, some hospitals transport children in little red wagons rather than in wheelchairs. They should ask if there is any program for siblings to get involved and if there are accommodations for a family to stay overnight at the hospital, so the family can be as close as possible.


Only individual hospitals were surveyed for this list. Network hospitals with more than one location, were not evaluated, nor were specialty hospitals, like a burn unit.


Background information

Child magazine started the process of picking the top children's hospital by first looking at the 178 hospitals that are members of the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions in Alexandria, Virginia. They narrowed down the list to 50 by looking at their evaluations from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. It's an independent agency that subjects institutions to a rigorous three-day examination of dozens of crucial areas such as treatment protocols, record keeping and dispensing of medication.


Next, the 50 finalists were surveyed with 42 questions that were developed by the magazine's medical advisory board. The questionnaire asked about a variety of important issues, such as cancer survival rates and the quality othe hospitals' Child Life Program for the emotional needs of patients and their families. After five months they decided on the top 10 children's hospitals.


Here is the list:



  1. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  2. Children's Hospital Boston
  3. Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle
  4. The Children's Hospital, Denver
  5. Texas Children's Hospital, Houston
  6. Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit
  7. Children's Medical Center of Dallas
  8. Children's Hospital and Health Center, San Diego
  9. University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Ann Arbor
  10. The Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital, Charleston


You can refer to page 62-66 for details on why the top three hospitals discussed here were selected.

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