Texas Children’s leaders and members of the Heart Center team gathered early Tuesday to celebrate U.S. News & World Report’s recent announcement that Texas Children’s is now ranked No. 1 in cardiology and heart surgery. Ranked second in the nation for the past two years, Texas Children’s Heart Center has surpassed Boston Children’s Heart Center, which had held the top ranking for the past 19 years.
“This ranking is a culmination of the many years our Heart Center team has dedicated to providing high-quality care to our patients,” said Chief of Cardiology Dr. Daniel J. Penny to a packed conference room at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. “By being ranked No. 1 means we have an even greater role in shaping the field of pediatric cardiology and heart surgery.”
Surgeon-in-Chief and Chief of Congenital Heart Surgery Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr. agreed and said the ranking is an incredible legacy that began long ago with Drs. Denton Cooley and Dan McNamara, both of whom were pioneers in their field and among the first to demonstrate that small children could safely undergo heart surgery.
“Every single one of you is responsible for this,” Fraser said to the crowd, which included Heart Center leaders Chief of Cardiovascular Anesthesia Dr. Emad Mossad, Chief of Critical Care Dr. Lara Shekerdemian and Anesthesiologist-In-Chief Dr. Dean Andropoulos. “There is no greater or lesser here.”
In addition to the entire Heart Center team, Fraser thanked Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark A. Wallace for “standing by us every single step of the way.”
Fraser said he remembers meeting with Wallace and the late Dr. Ralph D. Feigin when he first was being recruited to Texas Children’s Hospital back in 1994. The trio discussed creating a true Heart Center where each and every patient would be surrounded by medical professionals of the highest quality.
That goal has been achieved and so much more with the Heart Center’s surgical team performing more than 1,000 open-heart surgeries annually and 25 heart transplants in 2016, the most of any pediatric program in the nation.
The Heart Center’s cardiologists annually perform roughly 1,200 cardiac catheterizations, a less invasive treatment made possible by the threading of a long, flexible tube from a blood vessel in the leg to the heart. Most such cases would have required open-heart surgery 20 years ago.
The cardiology team also performs about 250 catheter-enabled ablation treatments in children with irregular heartbeats, a treatment that cauterizes the abnormal pathway to correct the problems. Such patients previously required lifelong medication.
Fraser and Penny said the Heart Center will continue to grow and that they are excited about its next step, which will be to move into Legacy Tower once it’s complete. The 19-floor vertical expansion will house new operating rooms, a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, neuro ICU rooms, surgical ICU rooms, a progressive care unit and eight floors dedicated to just the Heart Center.
“This No. 1 ranking will give us a greater role shaping the field, making the things that are impossible now possible in 2027,” Penny said. ”Although we’re No. 1 this year, we need to be better next year and the year after and the year after that.”
Read Mark Wallace’s blog, On The Mark, to learn more about the Heart Center’s No. 1 ranking.