Children's of Alabama opening pediatric heart center - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Children's of Alabama opening pediatric heart center

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The Joseph S. Bruno Pediatric Heart Center at Children's of Alabama officially opened over the weekend.  The first patients were transferred to Children's new facility from UAB Hospital.  Located within the recently-opened, 12-story Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children, the Bruno Pediatric Heart Center provides comprehensive inpatient cardiac care through a unique partnership with UAB. It is, in essence, a heart hospital within a hospital, offering specialized pediatric cardiovascular surgery, cardiology, interventional cardiology, cardiac intensive care and anesthesia. Pediatric Cardiology's outpatient clinic will remain on the ninth floor of the UAB Women and Infants Center. 

The Bruno Pediatric Heart Center, which occupies the entire fourth floor of the Russell Building, includes a 20-room cardiovascular intensive care unit, two dedicated surgical suites, three heart and vascular catheterization labs and four dedicated extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) rooms. The floor directly connects via skywalk to the UAB Women and Infants Center to provide quick and efficient access for the physicians and surgeons to their pediatric patients, as well as for the immediate transport of newborns requiring specialized care for congenital heart ailments. A 16-room cardiac care unit for telemetry-monitored patients is located on the Russell Building's eighth floor.

The cornerstone of the Bruno Heart Center is its innovative pediatric hybrid catheterization suite, the only one of its kind in the state of Alabama. The hybrid cath lab is equipped with $3 million worth of state-of-the-art technology that allows it to be immediately converted to a CV surgical suite, eliminating the need to bring the child out of anesthesia for a second procedure in a different room. Interactive technology provides teaching opportunities and teleconferencing capabilities that can be accessed from down the hallway or the other side of the world.

Prior to the move, many pediatric cardiac patients were admitted to Children's prior to surgery and transferred to UAB for heart surgery and post-operative care. The relocation of CV services to Children's streamlines the pathway of care for these high-risk patients and their families. Most importantly, it combines, under one roof, the nationally-renowned expertise of UAB physicians and surgeons with the highly specialized care that is unique to Children's, the state's only hospital dedicated solely to pediatric healthcare.

The single platform of care created by the physical connection between the Bruno Pediatric Heart Center at Children's and the adult heart surgical facilities at UAB streamlines the care provided by a multidisciplinary team of specialists including surgeons, cardiologists, intensivists, anesthesiologists, neonatologists and geneticists as well as experts in pediatrics and fetal and maternal medicine. Pediatric CV surgery, cardiology, interventional radiology and anesthesia work jointly and in concert with the UAB Pediatric Cardiology Clinic, Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit/Continuing Care Nursery, obstetrics and adult congenital heart services to address the medical and surgical needs of heart patients as concerns arise. Through this unique approach, patients receive a seamless continuum of care that begins at birth and follows them throughout adulthood.

The history of UAB's congenital heart surgery program dates back more than a half century to the early days of open heart surgery and Dr. Champ Lyons. In 1966, Dr. John Kirklin, who performed the world's first series of open heart operations using a heart-lung machine, came to UAB from the Mayo Clinic and teamed with pediatric cardiology pioneer Dr. Lionel (Mac) Bargeron to create a program to provide care for patients with congenital heart disease.  Forty years later, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. James Kirklin, pediatric cardiologist Dr. Yung Lau, and pediatric cardiovascular intensivist Dr. Jeffery Alten joined forces to build the multidisciplinary program that is now based at Children's.

The Joseph S. Bruno Pediatric Heart Center was named in memory of legendary Alabama businessman Joe Bruno who opened a downtown Birmingham grocery store in 1932 with his $600 in life savings, and over the next 60 years built it into a publicly-traded, multi-billion-dollar chain. He was known for his generous philanthropy. The Joseph S. Bruno Charitable Foundation was established after his 1996 death to continue his faithful giving. A $3.9million gift to Children's funded the pediatric heart center.

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