In 2009, YNHH surgeon Robert Udelsman, MD, MBA, operated on a woman whose thyroid cancer had not been completely eliminated during a previous procedure at another hospital.
Removing the residual cancer without damaging the nerve to the patient's vocal cords was a delicate procedure. In addition to affecting speech, damage to this nerve could make breathing and swallowing difficult. Dr. Udelsman was able to remove the cancer without any nerve damage, and the woman now enjoys a normal, active life.
The patient, who lives thousands of miles away, had considered other hospitals nationally known for cancer treatment. She chose Yale-New Haven Hospital because of its excellent reputation for endocrine surgery.
"Our patients come from all over the country and the world," said Dr. Udelsman, chief of Surgery and the William H. Carmalt Professor of Surgery, Yale School of Medicine. "Many have complex, advanced disease and have been told at other hospitals they can't have surgery. We're frequently able to help these patients."
Outstanding treatment outcomes, renowned specialists and advanced procedures are some of the reasons YNHH, since 2009, has been among the top 10 hospitals nationwide for diabetes and endocrinology in U.S. News & World Report's best hospital rankings.
"We have a far-reaching reputation for excellence in endocrinology," said Silvio Inzucchi, MD, director, Yale Diabetes Center and clinical director, Section of Endocrinology, Yale School of Medicine. "Our physicians and staff have pioneered treatments for diabetes, thyroid disorders and other endocrine conditions."
Endocrine surgery has increased dramatically at YNHH. In 2001, endocrine surgeons performed about 30 procedures a year; they now perform more than 1,000, said Dr. Udelsman, who is also clinical program leader, Endocrine Cancers Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital. YNHH is particularly well known for minimally invasive procedures to remove overactive parathyroid glands and diseased adrenal glands.
The U.S. News rankings also recognize adult diabetes care at YNHH. Some procedures Yale Diabetes Center specialists have developed — including insulin infusion protocols for intensive care unit patients — are now used nationwide, Inzucchi noted. U.S. News & World Report also annually ranks the performance of America's children's hospitals. Diabetes and endocrinology at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital has made the top 10 every year since 2010 and ranked number four this year. YNHCH cares for patients with acute and chronic endocrine and metabolic disorders, including childhood obesity and metabolic bone diseases.
YNHH has a longstanding national reputation in diabetes treatment that started in the 1970s. At that time, William Tamborlane, MD, chief of Pediatric Endocrinology, Yale School of Medicine, and Robert Sherwin, MD, chief of Endocrinology and the C. N. H. Long Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology), Yale School of Medicine, led a team of investigators from the departments of Medicine and Pediatrics in developing insulin pump therapy to treat Type 1 diabetes. YNHH was the first U.S. hospital to provide this treatment for children and adults.
"With the rise in obesity and diabetes among children, the need for pediatric endocrine experts has become even more critical," Dr. Tamborlane said. "We are fortunate to have nationally recognized, experienced physicians and other healthcare professionals treating our youngest patients with these and other serious endocrine conditions."
YNHH is also known for its role in adult and pediatric endocrine research. The artificial mechanical pancreas and novel immune therapies to prevent and treat new-onset Type 1 diabetes are currently being tested at the hospital.
"Yale research in pediatrics and medicine is at the forefront of new developments in Type 1 diabetes therapy in the U.S.," Dr. Sherwin said "Our place as a leader in clinical research in diabetes is why doctors at the national level view us so highly."
Most recently, the Yale Diabetes Center was invited to join 36 other U.S. sites in the new Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes Study. The study will compare the long-term benefits and risks of four widely used diabetes drugs in combination with metformin, the most common first-line medication for Type 2 diabetes.
"Research, outstanding clinicians and advanced procedures are important, and certainly contribute to a hospital's reputation and high rankings," Dr. Udelsman said. "But a focus on patients is what makes a hospital great. The diabetes and endocrinology specialists at Yale-New Haven work with one another and with talented staff throughout the hospital to provide our patients the best care possible."