The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Department of Pediatrics 2018 Annual Report

Shaping National Standards of Care

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John M. Cunningham, MD

Dear Colleagues,

Our mission at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital is to exceed current expectations for clinical outcomes for every child we see. By striving to continually do better for our patients, our physicians and scientists have been driven to make the transformative discoveries and create the innovations in pediatric medicine that are now shaping national standards of care — and improving outcomes for children everywhere.

Some of the extraordinary clinical and research advances that took place in 2018 are highlighted in this report. At our Level 4 epilepsy center, for example, we are optimizing care on multiple fronts: using minimally invasive laser interstitial therapy to stop seizures in children with drug-resistant, focal epilepsy, laying the groundwork for a device that will stop seizures before they occur, and expediting pediatric access to new anti-seizure drugs. While we’ve long been a leader in developing novel treatments for neuroblastoma, several new research studies are continuing our quest to dramatically improve the lives of children with high-risk disease by creating new tools to enhance response to treatment while mitigating future adverse health effects from intensive therapies. 

We are strong advocates for the well-being of children, particularly those in our community who face significant health and economic disparities. Our long-running study of children born extremely prematurely finds that many are succeeding at school at age 10 when they receive educational and behavioral supports. We are also leading the way in providing expert medical evaluations in suspected child abuse and creating national standards of care for child maltreatment and abuse.

A unique collaboration between Comer Children’s Hospital and Advocate NorthShore Pediatric Partners launched in 2018 is bringing high-quality specialty care closer to home for many patients. Specialists from each health system will provide comprehensive clinical programs in cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, general surgery, and cancer and blood diseases at multiple locations around Chicago and its suburbs.

Our clinical excellence was recognized nationally in 2018 by several organizations:

  • U.S. News & World Report ranked the UChicago Medicine Comer Children’s as among the best in the country in four pediatric specialties—orthopedics, pulmonology, diabetes and endocrinology, and gastroenterology and GI surgery.
  • The UChicago Medicine received the prestigious Magnet Recognition Program designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center for excellence in nursing and patient care.
  • The Leapfrog Group named us a “Top Teaching Hospital” for the third year in a row for our commitment to safe, high-quality patient care.  
  • We were recognized by Baby-Friendly USA for having a birth facility that offers exceptional care to breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

The exceptional clinical expertise of our faculty was enhanced by the addition of two outstanding physician leaders; chief of child neurology, Douglas R. Nordli Jr., MD, who is passionate about finding a cure for epilepsy, and Ritu Verma, MD, chief of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition, a master clinician who specializes in celiac disease. In addition, we are also providing specialty and primary care to ever greater numbers of children as Comer Children’s has expanded its reach with 21 satellite locations.

We encourage you to explore the research and clinical programs at Comer Children’s that are ensuring brighter tomorrows for the children we treat today, not only in our community, but nationally.



John M. Cunningham, MD
George M. Eisenberg Professor and Chair
Department of Pediatrics
Physician-in-Chief, Comer Children’s Hospital

Year in Review 2018

  • 5,794 Admissions

  • 44,607 Patient Days

  • 34,427 Emergency Room Visits

  • 61,689 Ambulatory Visits

  • 170 Faculty and Academics

  • 208 Staff

  • 133 Clinical Trials

  • 34 Grants Awarded

  • 1,707 Residency Applications

  • 139 Residents and Fellows

Next: Advocate NorthShore Pediatric Partners Collaboration