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James T. Willerson, MD
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July 16, 2013

Dear Friend of the Texas Heart Institute,

It gives me great pleasure to share with you the news that the Texas Heart Institute (THI) has been ranked among the nation's top 10 heart centers for the 23rd consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report in its annual rankings of America's Best Hospitals.  

US NEWS Best Hospitals Top Ten Cardiology and Heart Surgery 2013-2014This kind of excellence with this kind of consistency, over almost a quarter-century is a true testament to the physicians, scientists and staff who remain so committed to THI's mission of advancing research, education and treatment of cardiovascular disease, with the ultimate goal of finding a cure. 

Dr. Denton A. Cooley, who as you know founded THI more than 50 years ago with this mission in mind, also takes great pride in this record of accomplishment and service to our patients. 

We are ranked, along with our clinical partner, St. Luke's Hospital, No. 10 this year. Incidentally, that also means we are the very best in Houston and in Texas. 

To see us ranked in the top 10 amid much larger traditional institutions is some of the best evidence of our vigorous efforts to advance research, education and improved patient care. We are a proud David in a league of Goliaths, competing against heart centers that have much higher revenues and huge endowments compared to ours. As you know, THI receives no patient revenues and relies on research grants and, to a much larger extent, on philanthropy. 

Let me give you some additional perspective. 

The U.S. News Cardiology & Heart Surgery category is made up of 720 hospitals. All are experienced in treating difficult cases — a hospital is listed only if at least 1,321 inpatients in need of a high level of expertise in this specialty were treated there in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Texas Heart Institute, the Denton A. Cooley BuildingUnlike other rankings and reports, U.S. News & World Report looks at how well centers do in complex and demanding situations. The recognized centers fit a certain mold. They are often referral centers because their physicians see sicker patients and do higher volumes of difficult procedures. They follow and often propose advanced treatment guidelines. They conduct research that migrates from the labs and computer databases to the bedside. And they take advantage of improvements in imaging, surgical devices and other technologies. 

I want to say a very proud personal thank you to everyone – doctors, scientists, staff members and, of course, our many generous supporters – who helped us reach this 23-year milestone. 

Finally, I'd remind us all that the true meaning of these rankings is the number of lives we've saved and changed for the better over these last 23 years. That hard work and dedication to the mission continue even as we pause to celebrate this year's ranking news. 

Heart disease never rests, and neither will we. 

For more information about the rankings, visit U.S. News & World Report online at

With my respect and gratitude,

James T. Willerson, MD
President and Medical Director

Contact Dr. Willerson.
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