The UF Health Shands Transplant Center was nationally recognized by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association for its quality care.

The organ transplant center was designated as a Blue Distinction Center, a title that recognizes the quality, cost and access of hospital care across the nation.  

“Without the centers of distinction, patients might have to be directed to a center further from home and from family support,” said Stephan Moore, the administrative director of the transplant center.  

More than 7,000 organ transplants have been performed in the last 50 years, according to a press release.

To become a distinction center, the UF transplant program annually submits information to insurers through a standardized process within the United Network for Organ Sharing administrators’ page, Moore said.  

“Large insurers will review our program information, which shows the depth of resources and staff we bring to the table as UF Health in the area of transplant,” he said. “And insurers also review all transplant program patient outcomes to ensure high-quality results.”

After the review, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association then selects the centers. National  programs that are recognized include bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacement, spine surgery and transplants, according to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield website.

For transplant programs, the association recognizes facility accreditation, faculty accreditation, number of transplants and the outcome of transplants.

Nine hospitals in Florida have received the Blue Distinction recognition.

John Wingard, the director of the UF bone and marrow transplant program, said he believes it was chosen due to its outcomes, patient satisfaction, moderately large center and offering of different transplant types.

“This will increase our numbers of transplants,” Wingard said. “In general, the more we do, the better we do, and the more resources we will have to offer a greater range of services.”

UF is also one of four Blue Distinction Centers+ for adult lung transplants. The Blue Distinction Centers+ are hospitals that are recognized for their expertise and efficiency of care. 

“We have a great team who are passionate, committed, highly effective, caring, and they love what they do and the patients we serve,” Wingard said.

[A version of this story ran on page 7 on 11/10/2014]