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University Children's Health Heart Center
The Only Dedicated Pediatric Heart Center in South Texas

What Sets Us Apart

At University Children’s Health Heart Center, you can be confident your child is cared for by a team that’s recognized for outstanding patient outcomes, in a facility that offers the highest level of care, comfort and compassion for children with congenital heart defects.

Our Heart Center:

  • The only dedicated comprehensive inpatient and outpatient pediatric cardiac center in South Texas.
  • One of  19 programs in the nation designated as a Center of Excellence by Optum, Aetna and Superior Health Plan Insurance Entities, and one of only 3 in Texas.
  • The only program in the region with 2 pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons who are board certified in both adult and pediatric cardiothoracic surgery.
  • Offers specialized teams of pediatric heart specialists, cardiac nurses and respiratory therapists, as well as neonatal/pediatric transport teams.
  • Partners with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance to provide pediatric heart care to more children throughout the Rio Grande Valley region.
  • Patient outcomes that are among the best in the nation.
  • The only program in the region that publicly reports its outcomes data through the Society of Thoracic Surgeons database.
  • Offers treatment for children not available elsewhere as part of our clinical trials.

Patient Care

We believe that children and their families are our patients, and recognize that family members often need emotional support, attentive care and logistical help. That’s why our entire team is focused on creating the best outcomes for patients, while keeping the family informed, comfortable and educated.

At many hospitals, Children with heart disease and their families are often shuffled from place to place to fit into the operations of the hospital. At University Children’s Health Heart Center, we believe that model is backward. In fact, we’ve created a care model where the patient and his or her family’s needs are always first.

Superior Quality Measures

  • Our history of positive patient surgical outcomes far surpasses the national average.
  • We’ve been recognized as a Designated Center of Excellence by the nation’s top insurance carriers.
  • Our Heart Center is consistently in the top 2 in quality metrics in pediatrics when it comes to patient satisfaction, hand hygiene, central line infection and urinary catheter infection.
  • Intersocietal Accreditation Commission recognized Pediatric Echocardiography Laboratory
  • Participant in the expanded NPC-QIC collaborative

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s leading academic programs, University Health System in partnership with UT Health San Antonio, is helping to develop new and better treatment options for pediatric and congenital heart disease.

Patients have the advantage of accessing one of the clinical trials occurring at our Heart Center. Congenital heart defect clinical trials are not right for every patient, and it’s important for families to understand their options and ask questions. Before you are asked to make any decisions, we will take the time to answer any questions and discuss all risks and benefits of the participation.

Contact us for more information about current clinical trials that are actively recruiting. You can also find more information about clinical trials from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the searchable database of clinical trials maintained by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.

Sternal Wound Infection Project

Initiated in 2011, we researched sternal wound infections following pediatric cardiac surgery through a survey study of all programs across the United States. The study, which was published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, revealed very little consistency in the approaches made to limit infections. Our group then embarked upon creating a data-driven protocol for the prevention of sternal wound infections and implemented it within our program from 2011-2013. We found that the implementation of the protocol decreased our incidence of sternal wound infections. Our results were published in the World Journal for Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Surgery in 2013. Subsequently, we became the lead institution in a 2-year prospective, multi-institutional study, involving 10 programs looking at a uniformed approach towards decreasing the incidence of sternal wound infections. This study is in conjunction with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons National Database. Our data collection has just been completed and we are in the process of data analysis prior to formal presentation and manuscript submission.

Fontan Protocol

In June of 2015, our program initiated a protocol for patients undergoing third-stage palliation for single ventricle disease (the Fontan procedure). This operation is known to be associated with prolonged hospital stays secondary to pleural effusions. Our team used a data-driven approach to create a formalized protocol for all patients receiving the Fontan procedure, which included specific surgical intensive care and pharmacologic therapies. Since the initiation of the protocol, our programmatic lengths of stay for a Fontan Procedure have decreased an average of 66 percent.

Early Extubation Protocol

In December of 2015, our program initiated an early extubation strategy for patients undergoing congenital heart surgery. More specifically, we are tracking our ability to extubate a patient in the operating room versus the first 6 hours of arrival at PCCU. We used a well-defined subset of patients, and constructed this protocol using parameters defined by other studies. However, we submit that this particular approach is more encompassing than previously published reports. It is our belief that we must evaluate the safety of such an approach and if deemed a safe therapeutic initiative, to further evaluate the ability to extubate patients earlier.

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