Dell Children's Medical Center staff and Ascension Seton representatives held a ribbon-cutting Feb. 29 to celebrate the expansion of Dell Children's cardiac critical care unit, which has doubled in size.

The details

The unit now has 48 beds for pediatric heart care. Dr. Daniel Stromberg, director of cardiac critical care, said that the rooms were previously used for patients who were less acutely ill. With the upgrades, they can now use all 48 as intensive care unit beds.

“The room has to focus on the patient so they’re in the center,” Stromberg said. “All the things that are necessary for cardiac critical care are here, including surgical light. These rooms can be sort of a quasi-operating room if necessary. We have very high tech equipment here; lots of monitoring and monitors that can be moved around the room flexibly, and of course all the usual headwall [like] oxygen, gasses, things that you need for an ICU.”

The rooms are also equipped with beds, and some with private bathrooms, for family members to stay overnight.

Dell Children’s President Michael Wiggins said that over 100 care team members at the center have provided over 2,000 heart surgery procedures and over 30 heart transplants in the last five years.

“Because of the capabilities that they demonstrate everyday, this program has received national recognition and is now attracting families not only from Central Texas but from across the country and even beyond,” Wiggins said. “So because of their expertise, we’ve had to expand.”

Stromberg added that the expansion is giving the medical center the chance to develop specializations within the ICU.

“Eventually we’ll have part of this unit as a very specialized heart failure transplant ventricular assist device unit, so kids who have severe forms of heart failure or have forms of mechanical circulatory support will be cohorted here,” Stromberg said.

Quote of note

“We have to always remember that [the expansion] is driven by the patients' and families' [needs],” said Dr. Charles Fraser, chief of pediatric and congenital heart surgery. “[The] babies that get diagnosed during fetal life, some of whom unfortunately need advanced care as soon as they’re born ... and then the care that extends to the parents and family members who are really at the worst time of their lives when their family members are affected with this.”