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U.S. News & World Report listed the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania as one of the top hospitals in the nation for the sixth year in a row. HUP was the only hospital in the Delaware Valley region to be recognized in the "Honor Roll."[Lauren K

The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is at the top of its class -- according to U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of hospitals.

The publication's annual ranking of hospitals, which hit the newsstands on July 15, lists HUP as one of the top hospitals in the nation for the sixth year in a row. HUP was the only hospital in the Delaware Valley region to be recognized in the "Honor Roll."

"Obviously, we're thrilled," HUP Executive Director Garry Scheib said. "It's certainly a reflection of the entire team of faculty and staff who work here."

The top hospitals listed in the "Honor Roll" were drawn from a pool of 6,045 medical centers surveyed nation-wide.

Out of the seventeen hospitals that were recognized, HUP rolled in at thirteenth place right behind New York Presbyterian Hospital. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic were the top three medical centers, respectively.

HUP's current position in the magazine's "Honor Roll" denotes an improvement from last year, when it ranked fourteenth out of sixteen medical centers. Over the past six years, HUP has been ranked as high as tenth.

"It's hard to move up in the ranking because of the competition we're with," Scheib said. "We have the opportunity regionally and nationally for growth, and as our programs grow, this will help us move up in our standing."

According to administrators, HUP's consistent recognition in U.S. News & World Report's ranking speaks of its ability to maintain an exceptional reputation, despite the numerous difficulties that it has faced in recent years.

In 1998, for example, the Health System plunged into a $300 million deficit, from which it has gradually recovered over the past few years.

Moreover, the shift in leadership among the Health System's top positions -- which culminated with Arthur Rubenstein's appointment as Medical School Dean and Vice President last summer -- also demonstrates the numerous transitions that the institution has recently undergone.

Scheib attributed the medical center's long-term recognition in U.S. News and World Report to HUP faculty's and staff's commitment to the organization, even during this period of financial instability.

"Local and national competitors attempted to recruit many of the stars here when we were experiencing financial difficulty, but they didn't leave," Scheib said. They stuck with it, and that's why we've maintained our ranking."

Additionally, Neurology Department Chairman Francisco Gonzalez-Scarino said that under Rubenstein's and Chief Executive Officer Robert Martin's leadership, the Health System has emerged out of its more difficult years.

"Dr. Arthur Rubenstein is an outstanding leader with enormous credibility in the community as well as in the medical center and the university, and his arrival has cemented our remarkable turnaround," Gonzalez-Scarano said.

"Robert Martin's administrative and financial savvy, along with his team, performed what is widely perceived by outsiders as a minor miracle," he added.

In U.S. News & World Report's evaluation, fourteen out of HUP's seventeen specialties were acclaimed for outstanding expertise and high quality conditions. In each of these areas, the departments received scores based around mortality data, physician reputability and care-related factors like nursing and technology.

Penn was ranked especially high in the geriatrics, heart and heart surgery, hormonal disorders and rheumatology areas. Other areas that received top scores included digestive disorders, gynecology and psychiatry.

Despite the competition among the top-ranking hospitals, Scheib said that HUP administrators have goals for further advancement. In particular, Scheib noted that the cardiology department was undergoing a series of improvements and that HUP's organ transplant programs are currently expanding.

That said, Scheib said that he was optimistic to see HUP in the "Honor Roll" in the future.

"We'll be disappointed if we're not ranked, and we plan on being up there," Scheib said.

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