Patients who have undergone complex, cardiovascular procedures at the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute require specialized care and attention. At CHOC, they get just that in a dedicated, 12-bed Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU).
In CHOC’s CVICU, children receive attention from pediatric cardiac-trained intensivists, nurse practitioners, critical-care registered nurses, and an interdisciplinary medical team. All rooms are private and fully equipped with leading-edge technology that meets the demands of monitoring and treating children with heart problems, and those who have undergone complex heart surgery and heart catheterization procedures. CHOC is the only facility in Orange County that performs open heart surgery on newborns and children.
That combination of well-trained experts and topnotch facilities can lead to improved patient outcomes. The Heart Institute has outcomes above the national averages for overall survival rate and neonatal survival rate. CHOC is routinely named to the Leapfrog Group’s annual list of Top Children’s Hospitals, recognizing a commitment to provide the safest and highest quality of health care.
“Cardiovascular patients are unique and delicate. They require complex care and management. CVICU staff members understand these kids’ physiology,” says Allie Quill, RN, a clinical outcomes coordinator at CHOC. “When our patients get into trouble, their treatment is not routine. All of our kids are so different and require such fine tuning.”
Cardiac pediatric subspecialists are especially trained to care for heart patients in need of critical care, and they have advanced knowledge of cardiovascular disorders.
“Pediatric heart specialists have extra training and experience in caring for children with unique and severe cardiac disorders, something a general care team or an adult cardiac doctor may not be as comfortable with,” says Dr. Michele Domico, medical director of the CVICU.
The CVICU’s design also plays a critical role in improving outcomes for patients. The space encourages parent-clinical caregiver interaction, and ensures a peaceful, healing environment. Our staff recognizes the role that loved ones play in patient healing.
Each private CVICU patient room is divided into three areas:
- The first area, closest to the doorway, is the nurse’s zone. Here, visitors will notice a wheeled cart that holds a computer and supplies to allow bedside charting and full access to patients.
- The second area belongs to the patient, and features gas hook-ups, monitors and other equipment.
- The third area is the parent zone, which includes a sleep sofa, reading light, sink, telephone and other amenities to ensure family comfort.
The CHOC CVICU also includes two fully-equipped procedure rooms that allow physicians to perform life-saving surgery on patients who otherwise could not be transported out of the unit.
Certain heart conditions warrant a series of surgeries throughout childhood, necessitating several stays in the CVICU. For that reason, CVICU staff members often develop close and lasting relationships with patients and families.
“Parents often come back and visit us after their child has been discharged, to thank us for taking special care of their child,” says Domico. “Every year our team receives dozens of school photos and holiday cards from families who we were fortunate enough to bond with in the CVICU. It’s a privilege to see the children we’ve treated grow up and have a healthy childhood.”
- Ella underwent heart surgery at CHOC Children’s when she was just 7 months old to correct her coarctation of the aorta. Today, she’s thriving.
- Veer was born with a hole in his heart, and needed surgery to repair it when he was four years old. Today, he’s thriving.
- Palpitations, also known as irregular heartbeats, are most likely caused by non-heart-related triggers. A pediatric cardiologist explains when they’re a sign of something more.