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Children's Hospital is First in Louisiana to Earn Adult Congenital Heart Association Accreditation

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Children’s Hospital New Orleans is one of only 44 accredited programs nationwide, advancing specialized cardiac care for the adult congenital population in the Gulf South.

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NEW ORLEANS – Children’s Hospital New Orleans announced today that it has been accredited as an Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Comprehensive Care Center from the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA). Because of the many advances in medical care, people born with congenital heart defects (CHD) are now living into adulthood which underscores the importance of programs focused on this specialized patient population.

Currently nearly 2 million adults are living with ACHD in the United States and the accreditation process aims to standardize and enhance the quality of care for adult CHD patients throughout the country. Children's Hospital is one of only 44 programs nationwide to receive this accreditation and is the only hospital in Louisiana and the Gulf South to earn this distinction from the ACHA, a nationwide organization focused on connecting patients, family members, and healthcare providers to form a community of support and a network of experts with knowledge of CHD.

"It is estimated that only 10% of adults living with ACHD are receiving the care they truly need and that is something we want to fix," said Tom Kimball, MD, Pediatric Cardiologist and Co-Director of The Heart Center at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “The Heart Center at Children’s Hospital New Orleans is committed to serving as the comprehensive cardiac provider of choice for adults with congenital heart disease.”

Those who will likely need access to ACHD care is also expected to grow by five percent each year, increasing the demand for these services in the coming years. Adults with CHD need care throughout their lives, but because their lifespans have dramatically increased in the preceding decades, traditionally trained adult cardiologists are often not prepared to treat these patients.

Children’s Hospital New Orleans cares for adults born with simple, moderate or complex heart defects including atrial septal defect, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Marfan syndrome, tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great arteries, truncus arteriosus and many more complex heart conditions.

Children’s also cares for patients were unaware they had a congenital heart condition until they reached adulthood before experiencing symptoms for the first time.

“With this accreditation and our commitment to hiring staff who are fully dedicated to our ACHD patients, we have established a Center of Excellence that is committed to the gold standard of care for adults with CHD,” said Michael Brumund, MD, Medical Director of Adult Congenital Cardiology at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “Children’s Hospital New Orleans is uniquely positioned to offer the increasingly specialized care patients need. Our highly qualified team strives to deliver an exceptional patient experience combining rigorous standards of care with a holistic approach that supports the patient’s personal health goals.”

Partnering with the LCMC Health adult hospitals ensures that patients will be able to readily access board-certified adult congenital cardiologists as well as any necessary adult specialty care that includes family planning, maternal fetal medicine specialists, cardiovascular surgeons, interventional cardiologists and electrophysiology specialists.

The Heart Center cares for patients in eight locations across the state as well as telehealth visits, providing much needed access to care for heart rhythm problems, pacemaker, surgical interventions, cath lab procedures, surgery, heart failure, pregnancy and second opinions. The Heart Center has also established a transition clinic that works with teens into adulthood, enabling them to understand the care that is needed as the grow up. This gives parents whose children have grown up receiving care from Children’s Hospital peace of mind knowing they can stay within the system.

“At Children’s we have made a significant commitment to this program, with two dedicated ACHD cardiologists and several full-time ACHD staff members including our nurse practitioners and nurse navigators,” added Brumund. “This disease is not well understood or well-known, and with our dedicated staff, we believe we can change that and impact a generation of people living with congenital heart disease.”

The ACHD Program at Children's Hospital monitors hundreds of ACHD patients each year and performs many ACHD heart surgeries annually. The program received accreditation by meeting ACHA’s criteria, which includes medical services and personnel requirements, and going through a rigorous accreditation process, both of which were developed over a number of years through a collaboration with doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and ACHD patients.

“There are now more adults than children in the U.S. with CHD,” said Mark Roeder, President and CEO of ACHA. “Accreditation will elevate the standard of care and have a positive impact on the futures of those living with this disease. Coordination of care is key, and this accreditation program will make care more streamlined for ACHD patients, improving their quality of life.”

The Heart Center at Children’s Hospital is led by Co-Directors Dr. Thomas Kimball, Chief of Pediatric Cardiology, who joined Children’s Hospital in 2019 from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the number 3 ranked children’s hospital by US News & World Report, and Dr. Frank Pigula, Chief of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery, who spent 12 years as Clinical Director of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, the number 1 ranked Children’s Hospital in the country by US News & World Report.

Over the last two years, the Heart Center at Children’s Hospital has expanded from 11 to 22 physicians, along with seven new advanced practice providers and a 50 percent increase in clinical nursing support staff. The recruitment of additional pediatric heart specialists from some of the nation’s top children’s hospitals includes a coronary artery disease specialist, two perfusionists, two cardiac intensivists, a heart failure specialist, an additional electrophysiologist and board certified adult congenital cardiologist, and a fetal echocardiographer.

The addition of new world-class talent amplifies the existing team of expert cardiac specialists, and is paralleled by the Heart Center’s physical transformation, which includes a new, expansive 28-bed Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU), state-of-the-art operating rooms, two advanced cardiac catheterization labs, and the expansion of satellite clinics across the State of Louisiana.

To learn more about the Adult Congenital Heart Program at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, click here. For more information about ACHA ACHD accreditation, visit www.achaheart.org/accreditation.

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About Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Children’s Hospital is a 222-bed, non-profit academic pediatric medical center that offers comprehensive healthcare services, including over 40 pediatric specialties, delivered just for children. With more than 400 physicians trained in more than 40 pediatric sub-specialties, Children’s offers a comprehensive array of pediatric healthcare services in Louisiana and the Gulf South. In addition to its main campus located in New Orleans, the hospital operates a network of specialty clinics across Louisiana, including in Covington, Baton Rouge, Alexandria, and Lafayette. Children’s offers primary care services at 13 convenient locations and remotely via its Virtual Care for kids program. Children’s is a proud member of LCMC Health, a Louisiana-based, not-for-profit hospital system which also includes New Orleans East Hospital, Touro, University Medical Center New Orleans, West Jefferson Medical Center, and East Jefferson General Hospital. Learn more at chnola.org

About the Adult Congenital Heart Association

The Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life and extending the lives of adults with congenital heart disease (CHD). ACHA serves and supports the nearly 2 million adults with CHD, their families and the medical community—working with them to address the unmet needs of the long-term survivors of congenital heart defects through education, outreach, advocacy, and promotion of ACHD research. For more information about ACHA, contact 888-921-ACHA or visit www.ACHAHeart.org.

The ACHA ACHD Accreditation Program is partially funded through program sponsorships by Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems, Inc., and Edwards Lifesciences, LLC.

For more information about ACHA, or to schedule an interview with Mark Roeder, please contact Terri Schaefer at tschaefer@achaheart.org.