U.S. News and World Report has released its list of top hospitals in the country — and in each state — and its an optimal time to reflect on the importance of these centers to our state and communities, as well as look to how we can strengthen them for the future.
According to the list, which is available online at health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings, the University of Kansas Hospital comes out on top for the state. It’s nationally ranked in right specialties: cancer; diabetes and endocrinology; ear, nose and throat; geriatrics; nephrology; neurology and neurosurgery; pulmonology; and urology. The hospital is also listed as high-performing in three adult specialties and six procedures / conditions.
But that’s far from the only great hospital in our state. Stormont Vail in Topeka is right behind. It’s listed as high-performing in one adult speciality and four procedures / conditions. In third place, Shawnee Mission Medical Center is high-performing in one adult specialty and three procedures / conditions.
This is great news for the top three hospitals, of course. Their administrators and staffs should be rightfully proud of what they’ve accomplished for the state of Kansas, and the innumerable patients they’ve nursed toward better health.
But it’s also a reminder of the tasks ahead for the state. Those top-performing hospitals are clustered to the northeast. This is a sprawling state, and we should make sure that every health care facility in Kansas has the opportunity to excel in such rankings. Not every Kansan is able to make the drive to Kansas City, Topeka or Shawnee Mission. And they shouldn’t have to.
What’s more, we know that so many of these other hospitals in our state do amazing work. They are the centers of their communities. They save lives each and every day.
But how much do we as a state invest in their continued health? We hope that legislators consider for a moment what an expanded Medicaid program would mean for health care providers. It would be a lifeline to some rural hospitals that are in desperate straits now. And all it would take is accepting federal dollars that have been available for years.
Building a top-notch, statewide health care system should be a priority for leaders in Topeka and across the state. As the U.S. News and World Report rankings show, we have outstanding examples right now. That we have opportunities to improve shouldn’t be taken as a criticism but an exciting call to action.