Fort Worth, TX,
12:24 PM

Employees’ High-Quality Care Leads to Top Rankings in U.S. News and World Report

U.S. News & World Report Names Six Cook Children’s Specialty Programs Among Best in Country

By Heather Duge

Joann Sanders, M.D., chief quality officer, and Matthew Carroll, M.D., associate chief quality officer, credit Cook Children’s employees with top rankings in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospital list for 2022-2023. Cook Children’s Health Care System ranked in six specialties, a large increase from two specialties last year. Among 284 children’s hospitals in the country, only 90 ranked in at least one of the pediatric specialties evaluated. The report, released on June 14, used clinical data to measure patient safety, infection prevention and adequacy of nurse staffing.

“For more than 100 years, Cook Children’s has been committed to providing the best quality medical care for children. The U.S. News and World Report rankings further validate the tireless dedication of our staff to fulfill our Promise,” said Rick W. Merrill, President and CEO of Cook Children’s Health Care System. “As we look toward the future, with the opening of our new hospital in Prosper, Texas, later this year, we are excited to bring our world-class pediatric care to even more children and families.” 

Dr. Sanders and Dr. Carroll said the top rankings are a testament to the people who work at the hospital and consistently deliver excellent quality care.

“Everyone in the organization has an impact on the amazing care we deliver to our patients and is part of our organization's success in U.S. News & World Report,” Dr. Carroll said. “The high-quality care that our physicians and staff provide every day not only positively impacts the lives of the patients and families we serve but is also reflected in awards such as this.”

Dr. Sanders echoed those sentiments and said the rankings are a huge accomplishment for Cook Children’s.

“It validates what we all have known – that we are a top-tier organization,” Dr. Sanders said.

The report uses clinical data to measure patient safety, infection prevention and adequacy of nurse staffing. The following six Cook Children’s specialties were named among the top programs:

  • Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery - #29 in the nation
  • Pediatric Diabetes and Endocrinology - #38 in the nation
  • Pediatric Orthopedics - #41 in the nation
  • Pediatric Pulmonology and Lung Surgery - #43 in the nation
  • Pediatric Cardiology and Heart Surgery - #48 in the nation
  • Pediatric Cancer - #50 in the nation

“The rankings are an incredibly complex process with a large amount of information gathered in two months,” Dr. Carroll said. “It was a great team effort from IT, Quality and the specialties involved.”

Raising the Bar

During the past two years, Dr. Carroll took a detailed look at the survey and partnered with each specialty to discover opportunities for improvement. 

“We didn’t do it just to check off the boxes for U.S. News & World Report,” Dr. Sanders said. “It was all about where it made sense to make changes and ultimately improve patient care.”

One improvement in Endocrinology was the development of a quality metric dashboard that shows how physicians are performing relative to peers on 10 to 15 measures. Dr. Paul Thornton shares the dashboard with the group which highlights roadblocks and successes. As a result of that project, dashboards will continue to be built for each specialty.

Scott Perry, M.D., head of Neurosciences at the Jane and John Justin Neurosciences Center, has worked at Cook Children’s for 13 years, consistently building innovative services contributing to rankings in the U.S. News & World Report. The Center is best known for its patient-centered care model focused on providing easily accessible, comprehensive care. Programs of excellence in epilepsy and movement disorders have been the foundation of their success, in addition to an active research program with multiple NIH grants. The group has grown to serve 13 locations in Texas including full-time clinics in Lubbock and Amarillo.

“We continue to expand the subspecialty neurosciences services at Cook Children’s, for example, our genetic epilepsy and movement disorders programs, offering not only the best in diagnostics and therapeutics but also several research trials offering novel therapies that otherwise would not be available to our patients,” Dr. Perry said. 

After looking at the survey analysis, Sheralyn Hartline,  formerly the RN, NICU/ECMO director and the current AVP of Nursing and Patient Care at Prosper, along with Pharmacy and IT departments at Cook Children's realized the need for a vaccine program geared toward parents who had not received their TDAP and flu shots. This is extremely important for the NICU population due to their immature immune systems.

“The database coordinator in NICU created a system to identify very low birth weight infants whose parents did not receive their TDAP vaccine,” Sheralyn said. “Pharmacy talked to parents to establish who would be eligible and after the program started, we were able to branch out and offer the flu vaccine. It has been a collaborative effort and Pharmacy keeps us afloat.”  

“The employees in these specialties have been very engaged and are the ones committed to making changes,” Dr. Carroll said. “This is part one of a long journey and we will build on this year’s successes moving forward. The next step is to complete an in-depth analysis of the survey and review it with the different medical directors, working with them to identify areas the organization can tackle together as we continue to improve our patients’ care.”

About Cook Children's

Cook Children’s Health Care System embraces an inspiring Promise – to improve the health of every child through the prevention and treatment of illness, disease and injury. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, we’re proud of our long and rich tradition of serving our community. Our not-for-profit organization is comprised of nine companies, including our Medical Center, Physician Network, Home Health company, Northeast Hospital, Pediatric Surgery Center, Health Plan, Health Services Inc., Child Study Center and Health Foundation. With more than 60 primary, specialty and urgent care locations throughout Texas, families can access our top-ranked specialty programs and network of services to meet the unique needs of their child. For 100 years, we’ve worked to improve the health of children from across our primary service area of Denton, Hood, Johnson, Parker, Tarrant and Wise counties. We combine the art of caring with leading technology and extraordinary collaboration to provide exceptional care for every child. This has earned Cook Children’s a strong, far-reaching reputation with patients traveling from around the country and the globe to receive life-saving pediatric care. For more information, visit