Dean's Weekly Message

Aug. 20, 2018


Dear colleague: 


UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital ranked as the best hospital in Colorado, according to rankings released last Tuesday by U.S. News and World Report, although the hospital slipped off the list of the top 20 hospitals in the country. Last year, University of Colorado Hospital ranked No. 15 and in 2016, it ranked No. 20 on the national list.  Jeffrey Glasheen, MD, professor of medicine for the School of Medicine and chief quality officer for UCHealth and University of Colorado Hospital, said the change the hospital’s ranking is the result of U.S. News changing its measures rather than the hospital’s performance. The magazine said that University of Colorado Hospital ranked nationally in 11 specialties, including a No. 1 ranking in pulmonology, a distinction that the hospital shares with another of our academic affiliates, National Jewish Health. The rankings by specialty are: 

  • Cancer – No. 26
  • Cardiology & Heart Surgery – No. 42
  • Diabetes & Endocrinology – No. 6
  • Gastroenterology & GI Surgery – No. 27
  • Geriatrics – No. 37
  • Gynecology – No. 30
  • Nephrology – No. 21
  • Neurology & Neurosurgery – No. 30
  • Orthopedics – No. 20
  • Pulmonology – No. 1
  • Urology – No. 37 

These U.S. News rankings are a reminder that serving the health care needs of our community and our country remains challenging, competitive, and under constant scrutiny. We and our hospital partners are measured by a variety of organizations, including U.S. News and World Report, Vizient, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Physician Compare, Hospital Compare). Each organization looks at overlapping but different sets of data, and reviewing our performance in each provides insight as to what aspects of our partnership are performing well and other areas in which there are opportunities for improvement. It is important to note that our patient outcomes continue to improve and that other centers around the country are constantly improving as well. When these ratings indicate that there are others who do something better than we do, we should look at their experience and adopt strategies that have been successful for them in improving the quality of care for their patients. Where these ratings fail to accurately capture data and reflect outcomes that we deem important, we must work with the list makers to show them a better way to measure results. 

We can be certain that these lists never capture the heart of what we do: providing smart, compassionate care every day that is backed by rigorous scientific achievement and the commitment to training future providers. Our School recognizes and depends on your dedication and hard work and we look forward to continuing progress in improving the understanding of human health and delivering excellent care to our patients. Magazine rankings will never replace the human touch. 

Lilia Cervantes, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and a hospitalist at Denver Health, was notified last Thursday by state Medicaid officials that undocumented immigrants who depend on Medicaid coverage for emergency-only kidney dialysis will soon be able to receive care on a routine, outpatient basis. Under existing rules, those patients had to wait until they were critically ill and in need of emergency care before they could receive life-sustaining dialysis. Effective September 1, the state will allow those patients with end-stage renal disease to get the care they need on a regular basis rather than waiting until they face an imminent threat to their lives. Lily’s research on this issue played an essential role raising awareness on this critical issue. Lily’s research was published earlier this year in an article in JAMA Internal Medicine and featured recently in a segment on CNN. In an essay in CU Medicine Today magazine, Lily explained how she was inspired in 2014 to pursue research on this topic after a patient she cared for died due to the complications of delayed treatments for her end-stage renal disease. Lily’s persistence and commitment to give a voice to people who aren’t able to speak up for themselves are an inspiring example of how our work improves lives and can influence policy.  I would also like to recognize our colleagues at the Colorado Department for Health Care Policy and Finance for taking note of this issue, reviewing the available evidence, and formulating a new policy based on that review. 

A research team from CU Anschutz Medical Campus has been notified that its proposal to work on the Pre-Cancer Atlas has been funded by the National Cancer Institute. Daniel Merrick, MD, associate professor of pathology, and Robert Keith, MD, associate professor of medicine, will be co-leaders, with Ignacio Wistuba, MD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, of the Biospecimen Unit of the Pre-Cancer Atlas. The 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law in December 2016 by President Obama, provided funding for human tumor atlases and other efforts associated with the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot Initiative. CU will be the central site for the tissue characterization and processing for the squamous cell carcinoma precursor lesions. CU will be a primary site for recruitment of patients for bronchoscopy and will also be enrolling resected cases of adenocarcinomas. The Biospecimen Unit will be a collaborative effort including CU, MD Anderson, University College of London, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University, University of Pennsylvania and UCLA.  

Melanie Cree Green, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, has been awarded a 2018 Clinical Scientist Development Award by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The award provides $495,000 over three years for Melanie to study the use of essential amino acid supplementation to decrease metabolic disease in high-risk obese girls with polycystic ovarian syndrome.  Melanie is one of 18 scientists selected from a pool of 264 applicants. 

Foundations of Doctoring is currently recruiting clinical educators for new first-year medical students. The three-year longitudinal preceptorship program allows students to participate in patient care, gain exposure to various medical fields, and apply knowledge from medical school didactics under the supervision and guidance of practicing physicians. Students work with their preceptor two to three afternoons per month while school is in session. All medical specialties are welcome to participate in the preceptorship program but we are in particular need of primary care preceptors for our new medical students. Applications for clinical preceptors can be made online. For more information, email

Our Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant Program welcomed the Class of 2021 into the field of medicine with the White Coat Ceremony last Friday.  This class is the 50th in the history of the program and is also the first class to be educated in the newly designed curriculum that is being implemented this year. 


Have a good week, 

John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine



The Dean’s weekly message is an email news bulletin from John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, Dean of the CU School of Medicine, that is distributed to inform University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members, staff, students and others about issues pertaining to the School’s mission of education, research, clinical care and community service.  See the UCH-Insider →


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