Oakleaf’s Jacob Lopez beats the odds and survives terrible car accident with help from U.S. News-ranked Wolfson Children’s Hospital 


April 8, 2015, is a day Maria Munoz will never forget. She and her son Jacob, then 7 years old, were in the car, going to get ice cream. While Jacob was buckled up in his booster seat, unbeknownst to Maria, he was messing around with his harness straps, putting them behind his back. Then the unthinkable happened. Maria and Jacob were in a terrible accident, one they have no memory of because both were severely injured.

Jacob sustained life-threatening injuries that included a skull fracture, traumatic brain injury, broken vertebrae, severed spinal cord, bowel perforations and collapsed lung. On that life-changing day, Jacob had his first emergency brain surgery to save his life at Wolfson Children's Hospital. Since then, he has had seven more surgeries, including a spine stabilization procedure and an operation to repair his damaged intestinal tract. While he is now in a wheelchair and may be for the rest of his life, he and his family hope advances in technology and treatment may change that prognosis.

His mother, Maria Munoz, and stepfather, Bill Miller, are glad that Jacob, now 8, was able to get quality medical and surgical care close to home, at Wolfson Children's Hospital. They didn't know on the day of the accident that Wolfson Children's has been consistently named among the 50 best children's hospitals in the country by the annual U.S. News & World Report quality survey, but they do now and that gives them peace of mind.

What does U.S. News ranking mean to parents and patients?

U S News and World Report Best in Hospitals Badge

On June 21, 2016, U.S. News & World Report announced that it has ranked Wolfson Children's Hospitals in two specialties in the new 2016-17 Best Children's Hospitals rankings. Wolfson Children's was ranked 46th out of the best 50 children's hospitals in the nation for gastroenterology and GI surgery, and 48th out of 50 in pediatric neurology and neurosurgery. Services provided at Wolfson Children's Hospital are provided primarily by pediatric physician specialists with Nemours Children's Specialty Care, Jacksonville, and the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville.

Michael D. Aubin, Wolfson Children's Hospital president, said, "The U.S. News Best Children's Hospitals rankings are just one way to help parents determine where they can get the best medical care for their children. The rankings highlight the top 50 U.S. children's hospitals in 10 specialties, including those Wolfson Children's Hospital was ranked in."

"The Best Children's Hospitals highlight pediatric centers that offer exceptional care for the kids who need the most help," said U.S. News Health Rankings Editor Avery Comarow.

How does a children's hospital get ranked in the top 50?

The U.S. News Best Children's Hospitals rankings rely on clinical data and on an annual survey of pediatric specialists. Survival rates, adequacy of nurse staffing, procedure volume and much more can be viewed on U.S. News & World Report Best Hospital Rankings.

U.S. News & World Report began ranking children's hospitals in 2007 on their ability to help children, particularly those with rare or complex medical conditions such as cancer; congenital heart disease; diabetes and metabolic disorders; brain, spine and nervous system conditions; diseases of the digestive tract and more

One-third of each hospital's score relates to survival, infections, surgical complications and other medical outcomes. Hospital reputation, based on an annual survey of pediatric specialists and subspecialists in each of the 10 specialties, makes up 16.7 percent, or one-sixth, of a hospital's score.

The remaining 50 percent evaluates a hospital's commitment to safety, excellence and respect for patients. A few examples of these might include a count of specific ways in which a hospital minimizes infections, the number of fellowship programs offered and the extent to which families are involved in a child's care.

Parents and caregivers have to decide for themselves whether they want to put more or less weight on particular factors, said U.S. News on their website.

For more information on the U.S. News rankings, visit Best Children's Hospitals and use #BestHospitals on Facebook and Twitter.

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