Boston Top Doctors 2009: Boston’s Top Hospitals

THE BIG PLAYERS

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Known for top-notch cardiovascular care and treatment of digestive diseases, the BID sees about 750,000 patients every year, most of them through its main campus at Longwood. It also has a new $30 million complex in Needham, complete with its own ER. And it’s a researcher’s haven, ranking consistently among the top five independent U.S. hospitals when it comes to raking in funding. You may already know some of the BID’s big names, like pioneering cancer and AIDS researcher (and bestselling writer) Jerome Groopman, and CEO Paul Levy, whose blog Running a Hospital is a must-read in medical circles and beyond. The BID also has more down-to-earth celebrity cachet: It’s the official hospital of the Red Sox.

330 Brookline Ave., Boston, 617-667-7000, bidmc.org.

[sidebar]Boston Medical Center
Compared with the city’s “Big Three”of academic medicine (Beth Israel, MGH, and the Brigham), Boston Medical Center is something of an outsider. Created just 13 years ago via a merger of Boston City Hospital and Boston University Medical Center Hospital, it cares for many of the area’s underserved urban poor. That’s its greatest strength, however: The hospital has a panoply of programs aimed at low-income families, the elderly, people with disabilities, and immigrants. Its network of community health centers, called Boston HealthNet, has helped get basic care to thousands of people from Quincy, Dorchester, Mattapan, and roughly a dozen other communities. BMC does some cutting-edge medicine, too (literally, in the case of its CyberKnife program, which targets hard-to-reach tumors using focused beams of radiation), and it has the largest 24-hour Level I trauma center in New England, which sees more than 120,000 people come through its ER doors annually.

One Boston Medical Center Place, Boston, 617-638-8000, bmc.org.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Arguably the best hospital in Boston and maybe the most innovative one in the country (though docs at rival MGH will vigorously dispute both points), the Brigham is the anchor of the sprawling Longwood Medical Complex. It takes in about 44,000 inpatients each year and 54,000 ER patients; another 950,000 people visit annually for ambulatory care. Its obstetrics numbers are even more impressive: The hospital is a veritable baby factory, delivering 9,000 kids per year. The Brigham also features a sparkling new cardiovascular center, staffed with faculty at the top of that field. Whatever ails you, getting it treated at this Harvard-affiliated hospital is a safe bet: Amid all the national debate about hospital errors and mismanagement, the Brigham has kept its nose clean, often appearing at the top of lists that rate hospitals based on patient safety.

75 Francis St., Boston, 617-732-5500, brighamandwomens.org.

Massachusetts General Hospital
Don’t be fooled by the $500 million expansion due to open in 2011 or the glittering windows of the five-year-old Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care. MGH is an old-school kind of place—and by that, we mean it’s steeped in tradition: Founded in 1811, it’s Harvard’s oldest and biggest teaching hospital. The first demonstration of anesthesia was done here, and modern-day MGH docs are still making medical breakthroughs (molecular biologist Jack Szostak won the 2009 Nobel Prize). The hospital’s research program is the largest in the country, with an annual budget of nearly $550 million, and its proton therapy center is one of just a handful nationwide. Virtually every department provides high-quality care, so if you’re hospitalized with one illness and you have an unexpected complication, you’re guaranteed to get another good doc to check it out.

55 Fruit St., Boston, 617-726-2000, massgeneral.org.

Tufts Medical Center
It’s tough to compete with the Harvard-affiliated giants, but in many specialties, Tufts holds its own. Its transplant service is first-class (it vies with MGH to perform the most heart transplants in New England each year), and its liver transplant program is the fastest growing in the region, with more than 700 adult, pediatric, and live-donor transplants performed since 1984. Tufts surgeons also perform the most gastric bypass and gastric band operations in New England. And laparoscopic procedures get their due, too, thanks to a familiar name—the Celtics’ Paul Pierce funded the hospital’s new minimally invasive surgery center. Tufts also houses the full-service, 128-bed Floating Hospital for Children, which has the nation’s first trauma center exclusively for kids. (It’s not literally a floating hospital, but it used to be: It started in the late 1800s as a ship that cruised Boston Harbor, providing childcare and parenting advice.)

800 Washington St., Boston, 617-636-5000, tufts-nemc.org.

 

THE SPECIALISTS

Children’s Hospital Boston
If you want the best for your kids (and who doesn’t?), you can get it here. Children’s is one of the very top pediatric hospitals in the country, with unparalleled programs in heart surgery, neurology, and orthopedics. The primary pediatric teaching outpost for Harvard Med, it matches its technical prowess with compassion. Earlier this year, it opened a 22-bedroom Victorian inn for patient families who have to stay in town while their kids undergo long treatment regimens.

300 Longwood Ave., Boston, 617-355-6000, childrenshospital.org.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dana-Farber is one of the country’s best cancer centers, up there with Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York and M. D. Anderson in Texas. As of 2011 it’ll be even bigger and better, as construction is under way on a new 14-story patient-care facility. The hospital’s stem-cell transplant program keeps patients alive longer than almost all other such programs in the U.S., and research done at Dana-Farber has yielded some of the most effective cancer drugs of recent decades, including Gleevec.

44 Binney St., Boston, 617-632-3000, dana-farber.org.

Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
The MEEI building may not look like much from outside, but in this case, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. The hospital’s ophthalmology is state-of-the-art. If you’ve got a problem with your eyes, ears, nose, or throat—from cancer to a simple need for LASIK—head here. The hospital also treats balance and voice disorders, wounds that won’t heal, smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, and thyroid/parathyroid dysfunction. One of its staffers, Dr. Claes Dohlman, invented the artificial cornea, and earlier this year its doctors performed the region’s first auditory brainstem implant.

243 Charles St., Boston, 617-523-7900, masseyeandear.org.

McLean Hospital
Looking around McLean’s campus in sylvan Belmont, you’d think you were at a liberal arts college campus, not a psychiatric hospital. But McLean is the best such facility in America. (Don’t believe us? U.S. News & World Report has ranked the Harvard-affiliated center its top freestanding psych hospital every year for the past two decades.) Among McLean’s many features are a center for transcranial magnetic stimulation and a vast child psych program that includes a fully accredited private high school.

115 Mill St., Belmont, 617-855-2000, mcleanhospital.org.

New England Baptist Hospital
It’s the premier orthopedic hospital in a sports town—what else do you need to know? If an athlete needs an injury fixed, he’ll probably head to New England Baptist. Famous patients include Ted Williams, Jack Nicklaus, and the Celtics; the hospital also treats many a Boston Marathon runner who doesn’t make it to the finish line. One touch of sweetness among all the tough-guy sports stuff: Every patient is welcomed with a rose, just in case no one else bothers to send flowers.

125 Parker Hill Ave., Boston, 617-754-5800, nebh.org.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
The Patriots and the Revolution rehab here, and you should, too. Thanks to its link with MGH and its own first-rate staff, Spaulding is one of the best physical rehab centers in the country. It’s especially renowned for its treatment of spinal cord trauma and brain trauma. If you don’t want to travel downtown, you can still benefit from Spaulding’s care: It’s the flagship of a network that includes nine area outpatient facilities, including a pediatric outpatient site in Lexington.

125 Nashua St., Boston, 617-573-7000, spauldingrehab.org.

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  • Christopher

    A few days after a bad fall I was rushed into Boston Baptist from South Shore Hospital by ambulance for an emergency MRI. At Baptist, I was ignored and left alone in horrible back pain with numbness and weakness in both my legs for 2 hours. A doctor finally came by, moved my legs around then released me at 3am without the emergency MRI, without anyone to pick me up or even the curtisey of a wheelchair when I could barley walk! A MRI I had a few days after showed that I had 3 herniated discs in my lower lumbar! I will NEVER go back to this so called hospital! No Rose for me!