An ICU Dedicated to Infant Cardiac Care
Emile A. Bacha, MD, Director of Congenital and Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, leads a team of four pediatric cardiac surgeons who each year perform 175 newborn heart repairs — a volume that makes NewYork-Presbyterian the largest congenital heart defect referral center in the region. These surgeons routinely treat some of the most complex cases, many of which are not able to be managed by other institutions. At the same time, the Hospital has the lowest mortality rate in New York State, and one of the lowest in the country, for pediatric heart surgery.
“Many neonates require heart surgery within hours of birth. Because these babies differ from infants and older children not just in size, but also in the physiology of their maturing organs and systems, we believe they require unique and differentiated care,” says Dr. Bacha, who is also Chief of the Division of Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
So it would follow that such specialized needs can best be served in a highly specialized care environment with team members who are all experts in neonatal and pediatric cardiac care. With a $5 million gift in dedication to Vivian and Seymour Milstein by their grandchildren, the Vivian and Seymour Milstein Family Infant Cardiac Intensive Care Unit became a reality in September 2017 with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The first-of-its-kind facility in the United States — the Infant Cardiac Unit is a state-of-the-art ICU dedicated solely to the cardiac care of infants three months and younger. “This newly dedicated unit fosters an advanced, multidisciplinary approach to providing specialized neonatal cardiac intensive care,” says Ganga Krishnamurthy, MD, Medical Director of the Infant Cardiac Unit. “It is an incredible advance for infants with severe congenital heart disease.”
NewYork-Presbyterian’s pediatric cardiac surgeons routinely treat some of the most complex cases. At the same time, the Hospital has the lowest mortality rate in New York State, and one of the lowest in the country, for pediatric heart surgery.
Forging a New Model of Care
The 17-bed unit cares for newborns — primarily premature or low birth weight — who not only need expert surgical care, but also require specialized life support technology, small-scale tools, and medical and surgical equipment designed for the tiniest of patients. The unit contains the most advanced support technology, including ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), specialized modes of ventilation, neurologic monitoring, and continuous veno-venous hemofiltration for patients whose care may also involve cardiac assist devices, such as the Berlin Heart, and 3-D printing to help guide surgery.
The unit’s highly skilled team includes neonatal and pediatric cardiac intensivists, pediatric cardiologists, neonatal cardiac nurses, and neonatal and pediatric cardiac nurse practitioners. “We believe this highly specialized care model provides the best outcomes for newborn infants with congenital heart disease,” says Dr. Bacha. “The Infant Cardiac Unit offers the perfect complement to the extraordinary care our healthcare teams provide on a daily basis to infants with conditions, including extreme prematurity, respiratory failures, very low birth weight, congenital heart disease, and complex congenital abnormalities that may require surgery.”