February 3, 2012

Top NYC Hopsitals 2012


From world-class prenatal care to first-rate food allergy research, the city’s top hospitals always keep family at the forefront.

By Whitney Casser and Kat Harrison


Beth Israel Medical Center
The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center
Steven Wolf, MD, Director; & Patricia McGoldrick, NP, MPA, MSN

What inspired you to create The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Beth Israel?

The need to have a family- and child-friendly center where care is coordinated between disciplines, where patients have access to their providers and where there is continuity of care from the office and clinic to the hospital and home. These families are stressed, worried and need a group of specialists who understand what it is like to be a parent with a child with a seizure disorder.

What is a typical work day like for you?

We round in the hospital in the early AM, visiting the epilepsy monitoring unit and the ICUs and then see patients in the offices. We return to the hospital before we leave at the end of the day. We have offices in Manhattan and Westchester and a big Developmental Disability Center at Roosevelt Hospital. The day is long—most days 7am to 7pm.

Why should a parent with an epileptic child come to Beth Israel?

So that the seizures can be controlled and the other problems can be solved—the attention and learning issues, etc. We [also] manage all the patients ourselves, we review the tests, perform the tests. The same team does everything so the care is not fragmented. No question is left unanswered—our families need to feel comfortable and confident that their doctors are listening and understand the issues they are experiencing as well as the fears they have.

What’s in the future for the Center?

We are creating the ability to get some testing done at home. Plus, expanding our offices in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island so families don’t have to travel so far for office visits.

First Avenue at 16th Street, 212-420-2000, wehealny.org.


Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC)
Pediatric Neuro-Oncology And Neuroblastoma Team
Dr. Kim Kramer, Associate Member of the Department of Pediatrics

What is a typical work day like for you? 

Every day has its unique challenges and opportunities. Some days I may see patients in our vibrant outpatient
clinic from opening to closing. Other days are spent with patients in the busy inpatient unit. Others involve teaching and mentoring medical students, residents and new fellows.

What services do you offer that make a difference for children and families? Dr._Kim_Kramer2__Credit_Memorial_Sloan_Kettering_Cancer_Center_.jpg

The Department of Pediatrics has wonderful support services that get our patients and their families through the most difficult times… The Child Life Specialists are the most talented, resourceful and insightful group of people. And our teachers not only help children maintain academic excellence, but I’m convinced that they excel from their peers because they get such specialized care… There’s also a terrific specialized Long-Term Follow-Up Team that helps our patients and
families well after the oncologic issues are a thing of the past.

What makes a great cancer treatment center?

[It] has to have expert multidisciplinary teams working together as one. They have to be researching and implementing newer, more effective, more tolerable treatments that can still tackle the challenging conditions that, unfortunately, remain all too common.

What lies in the cancer center’s future?

What I hope lies in my future is more of what happened to me this past week—I received a special phone call and email from a former patient of mine. We met when she was a toddler going through some grueling treatments for a very aggressive cancer. And her call was to let me know of her early acceptance into a prestigious college of her choice. We really want this joy to be a part of every child’s future!

1275 York Avenue, 212-639-2000, mskcc.org/pediatrics.


Mount Sinai Medical Center
The Jaffe Food Allergy Institute
Hugh A. Sampson, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Director

What interests you about the study of food allergies, specifically in children?

Food allergies have more than doubled during my lifetime in practice and now affect over four million children in the U.S. I am very interested in understanding the underlying reasons why allergies occur and to develop therapies to reverse them..

What specific services distinguish the Jaffe Institute from other hospitals?

In addition to having outstanding pediatric allergists and the latest standard tests for food allergies, we provide oral food challenges—which are the ”gold standard” for diagnosing food allergy—have several research diagnostic tests that may provide more information about the severity and natural history of a child’s food allergy, and the opportunity to enter into a number of clinical trials now ongoing to treat food allergy. In addition, physicians at the Jaffe Institute are experts in treating all forms of allergy, including atopic Mount_Sinai_2.jpgdermatitis, asthma, allergic rhinitis and drug allergy.

What types of food allergies do you see most often in your patients?

Allergic reactions to milk, egg, peanuts and various tree nuts are the most common.

What keeps you practicing at Mount Sinai?

Mount Sinai provides a collaborative environment where basic scientists, translational investigators and clinical practitioners communicate and work together to develop better methods of diagnosing and treating children with various disorders. It also provides the infrastructure and ancillary support services that makes developing new therapies more likely. We [also] have one of the most active research programs on food allergy in the world and are always looking for patients and families interested in participating in clinical trials. We have a highly skilled and experienced staff [that] cares deeply about every patient that we work with.

Share a stand-out success story.

Every family who enters our clinic distressed and demoralized by their child’s food allergy diagnosis and then walks out understanding their child’s problem and empowered to deal with it, is a success story.

One Gustave L. Levy Place, 212-241-6500, mssm.edu.


New York Downtown Hospital
Division of Cardiology
Atul Sharma, MD, Chief

What drew you to the study of cardiology?

I decided to become a doctor after my mother passed away from breast cancer when I was 15. The care she received—and, sometimes, didn’t receive—was the driving force in my decision.

What are some unique characteristics of your division?

Our division is a close-knit family. All of the doctors, medical professional and support staff know and like each other, and I think that makes for a much better patient experience—patients know we all have a good time at work and I think that makes them feel better when they leave our offices. From a medical perspective, we are a division that is focused on the prevention, early detection and early treatment of heart disease.  We use advanced screening techniques to detect subclinical disease and then focus on lifestyle modification to alter the progression of the disease. We take a multi-faceted approach to treatment—focusing on things that patients themselves can do (customizing diet and exercise plans, taking certain supplements, stress management and reduction) as well as pharmacologic therapies when needed.

Why should a family choose New York Downtown for treatment?

In my opinion, New York Downtown offers the best of all worlds—local, community care in a friendly environment where everyone knows your name. [Plus] a newly designed, modern facility with state-of-the-art care, equipment and
testing. 

What does the future hold for your hospital?

For 2012, we will be offering what we think is a unique service for the Downtown community called the Physician’s Exercise and Fitness Program. The program starts with a consultation with one of our cardiologists and then includes a diagnostic fitness test, custom-tailored exercise program after working with our exercise physiologist, and a dietary consultation. This will be performed in our new Moody’s Foundation Center Cardiac Rehabilitation and Fitness Center, opening in the second quarter of 2012.

170 William Street , 212-312-5000, downtownhospital.org.


The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary
Department of Pediatric Ophtalmology and Strabismus
Dr. Steven Rosenberg, Associate Director

How is the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, and the Pediatric
Ophthalmology and Strabismus department specifically, different from other eye
and ear centers?

These days there are not that many free-standing eye and ear hospitals left. The New York Eye and Ear infirmary serves as the fail-safe mechanism for eye care in the New York metropolitan area. The Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Department offers state-of-the-art care for all childhood eye disorders and for adult strabismus—eye muscle disorders and/or double vision. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, in general, and the Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Department, specifically, offers the almost unique opportunity for patients to get the care of many leading subspecialists in ophthalmology at the same time. In other places, trying to get many different subspecialists in the same operating room at the same time is either very hard or impossible.

What types of services do you offer children and families?

The department offers a wide range of therapeutic options including surgery, glasses, prisms, eye patches, medications and exercises. It is very important for visual rehabilitation in children to be done in a timely manner as children can
develop amblyopia (lazy eye).

And how do you work with families specifically?

As an educational center, we are quite focused on making sure the families understand the problems that their children and other family members have and that they understand the possible treatment options available to them. We have a social services department that helps the family get started in any early intervention programs or special services programs that the patient may need. For patients with pediatric glaucoma, we have art therapists available in the waiting area to help the patients look forward to coming to New York Eye and Ear Infirmary for their exams and to be better adapted to participating in their own care.

310 East 14th Street, 212-979-4000, nyee.edu.


NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan
Stanley Children’s Hospital
Kevin Hammeran, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

How is Children’s Hospital different from other children’s health centers in the city?

There are actually a couple of differences at the national level. One is [that] we’re really a women’s and children’s hospital and if you look around the country, a number of the other children’s hospitals are starting to realize how important high-risk maternity care is to them… Also, we have a very high case-mix index—a numeric value for each admission. A simple admission gets a low number and a complex admission gets a high number… We’re usually either the number one or the number two hospital in the nation in terms of getting a very high case-mix index. So it’s a measure of case complexity. Morgan_Stanley_Children_s_Hospital.JPG

Can you tell me about the new ER that opened up this past summer?

We have a $50 million gift from the Cohen family and we used that to develop the new Emergency Department here at the Children’s Hospital, and it’s about four times the size of our old space. It’s certainly capable of handling at least double the clients—there’s nothing like it in the city.

How do you foster a family-oriented atmosphere in your hospital?

We have what we call the Family Resource Center right off the main lobby, which really serves two purposes. It’s a place where families can get some respite… It’s also an educational resource. We actually staff it with consumer librarians. The idea then is that if a family really wants to find some additional information, maybe about the child’s disorder, or they need to do a little research of some kind, they can come down there and get assistance from a professional librarian… We see the family as a participating member of our team.

3959 Broadway, 1-800-245-KIDS, childrensnyp.org.


NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital/Columbia Sloane Hospital for Women
The Center for Prenatal Pediatrics and the Maternal Fetal Medicine Program
Dr. Mary D’Alton, Chair of the Department of OB/GYN

What do you like about working at the Sloane Hospital for Women?

What I enjoy most is the collaborative set of skills that we have among the doctors there, that is ultimately [needed] to give the best care to patients. In a nutshell, if you have a baby who is suffering from a birth defect, or has congenital heart disease…no one doctor can look after that family. It takes a team of obstetricians, maternal and fetal medicine physicians, geneticists, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric cardiac surgeons and neonatologists and having that whole team work together for the family—[that’s] truly special for me.

How is the Center for Prenatal Pediatrics and the Maternal Fetal Medicine Program different from other centers?

We see the breadth and depth of women’s healthcare. Whether she be a child who has a gynecological problem at age six, to a lady who is in her eighties and has cancer. Our goal is that we will offer the best care to women at all stages of their lives, no matter what the problem is. What’s unique about our program, in my experience, are the kinds of patients we have.

Are there any patients that stick out in your memory?

We do 7,000 deliveries and more than 2,000 surgeries, so you can imagine the number of patients we see… One that comes to mind is a patient of mine that I had seen and followed closely throughout her pregnancy who had delivered twins at 23 weeks. And she has been so challenged and yet has had some wonderfully happy days with her girls, and she’s emailed me photographs that give me both joy and pain. Pain that we couldn’t prolong her pregnancy for longer, and joy that they’re here with us and doing as well as you could possibly imagine.

Are there any future projects you’re excited about?

I want to develop a women’s urogynecology practice and further expand our women’s cancer program. We’ve also just initiated a pediatric gynecology program… This is where we need to be to serve the women and the children in the city.

16 East 60th Street, 212-305-3101, columbiaobgyn.org.


NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Medical Center
Komansky Center for Children’s Health
Dr. Gerald Loughlin, Chair and Pediatrician-in-Chief

What was the goal of opening the Komansky Center?

What we’ve done, and have gotten strong support from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, is create the environment of a children’s hospital within the bigger Weill Cornell Medical Center [community]. So we carved out the space to make it child and family-friendly and we always make sure the special needs of children are addressed even though we’re a part of this larger hospital that takes care of adults of all shapes and sizes.

How do you feel the center has grown?Weill_Cornell.jpg

We’ve grown in a number of ways. One is increase in people wanting to come here and I think that reflects the quality of the care. For example, last year our emergency room saw over 18,000 patients. When I started in 2002, we were probably seeing around 10,000 or 11,000 patients a year. We’re seeing great growth in the clinical  services.

Tell me about some of the new programming at Komansky.

There are very few places that are able to assess the various motility disorders—the gastrointestinal track—that can affect children. This year, we recruited a young physician, Thomas Ciecierega, who’s had specific training in assessing children with motility disorders from the very top of the esophagus, which is the first feeding tube, down to the intestines and out the other end. And he’s already started evaluating children who have been referred in. We are [also] about to launch a new program in sleep disorders.

Why should a family choose Weill Cornell as their hospital?

From the very beginning, what we wanted to do was attract great doctors. So over the last nine years, we’ve recruited around 85 to 90 physicians to the faculty of Weill Cornell and the Komansky Center. The driving force was to make sure that we provide the highest quality care to patients in the safest environment. We have great doctors, we have a program that’s focused—even inside this big hospital—on children and families. And with any problem that shows up, we have the
wherewithal to deal with it.

525 East 68th Street , 212-746-5454, nyp.org.


NYU Langone Medical Center
Pediatric Neurosurgery
Jeffrey H. Wisoff, MD, Director

What keeps you at NYU Langone?

First and foremost, the people. I’ve made most of my life choices based upon where I [thought] I’d be working with good people. One of the wonderful things about NYU is that it has been able to successfully marry cutting edge technology with a little bit of that small town feel that a community hospital has.

What types of patients do you typically treat?

We run the full gamut from relatively benign things that cause parents incredible distress to life-threatening conditions including brain tumors and head injuries. The most common thing that we see is babies with asymmetric heads—from sleeping on your back and not moving side to side.

What do you love about practicing pediatrics?

Congenital problems don’t end when you hit 18. So once a child comes under our care, we consider ourselves pediatric and congenital neurosurgeons. It’s only when the kids hit 18 or 21, in a traditional children’s hospital, they’re cut loose. And they’re taken on by adult practitioners who may or may not have the same skills or have the family-centric philosophy. Here, by having a continuity of care, we’re able to give our 20-year-olds who are now people in their late 30s, the same sort of attention they received when they were children.

What made you want to practice pediatric neurosurgery in the first place?

I like [that] you see children forever and you get to follow them—you have a little bit of a primary care doctor within you. I discovered that I could marry what I thought was a humanistic and people-centric attitude with the technical expertise of neurosurgery. Relating to families is incredibly rewarding. It was rewarding before I had children and it was absolutely remarkable when I had my own.

550 First Avenue , 212-263-7300, med.nyu.edu.


St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center
The Vascular Birthmark Institute (VBI) of New York
Alejandro Berenstein, MD and Milton Waner, MD, Co-Founders
Francine Blei, MD, Medical Director

What do you enjoy most about working in your field?

Working in the field of vascular lesions is one of the most challenging, but also one of the most satisfying experiences. We deal with vascular lesions, facial deformities that can produce significant disability and functional impairments such as vision loss, hearing deficits, speech and/or swallowing problems, so the ability to improve the facial deformities, re-establish functionality and external appearances of these children who have suffered with these disfiguring problems
can be one of the biggest rewards that any physician could ask for.

What makes VBI so unique?

[One thing that is] special and unique to our Institute is that not only do we attend to the medical, technical and scientific aspects of the management of our patients, but we place [just] as much emphasis on the human aspect of these diseases: how they affect the individual patient and family members. In most cases, these diseases affect the entire nuclei of the family and so we address the whole picture with the patient and family members. We are supportive also of the human elements of treatment, which includes Child Life Specialists, emotional therapy, even interaction with different animals. We also put great emphasis on support groups of patients with similar types of problems, or families with similar types of children. This emotional and social support is part of our approach to the disease.

How does VBI work with families specifically?

Contrary to most typical hospital environments, the Vascular Birthmark Institute does not have “visiting hours.” Parents can stay and sleep with the child. Parents are not turned away from the room when the physicians and/or the clinical personnel make rounds. We believe that it is important that the parents participate and actually get involved in the management of their relatives, including the feeding of the patient, changing of dressings, or other activities that will make it a more acceptable integration with not only the family, but the clinical staff and the patients. 

126 West 60th Street, 212-636-3977, vbiny.org.

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