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UCSF, UC Davis establish joint pediatric heart center

Combined program of cutting-edge diagnosis and treatment for pediatric
heart disease benefits children in Sacramento, Northern California

Two top Northern California academic medical institutions have joined forces to establish a world-class pediatric heart center in Sacramento that will identify and treat infants and children born with congenital heart disease.

The new UCSF/UC Davis Pediatric Heart Center in Sacramento extends the reach of the Pediatric Heart Center at UCSF Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, which is nationally regarded for discoveries and advanced treatments for congenital heart defects. A joint program of UCSF Medical Center and UC Davis Health System, the new Sacramento center brings together pediatric cardiologists, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons and teams of related doctors, nurses and other staff from both institutions.

“The goal of this partnership is to create a formidable program of integrated heart services for children in Northern California and surrounding regions,” said David Teitel, MD, UCSF chief of pediatric cardiology and co-director of the joint program. “By combining the renowned excellence at UCSF Children’s Hospital in care for children with congenital heart defects, with the strong pediatric programs at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, our pediatric cardiologists and pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons will be able to reach more of the families who are faced with the potentially devastating effects of heart defects.”

“One of the key components that will make this effort seamless to our combined patient population is UC Davis’ well-established telemedicine program,” said James Goodnight, MD, chair of UC Davis’ Department of Surgery. “Consultations by teleconferencing will augment physician availability in Sacramento and allow for regular case discussion and evaluation. UC Davis already partners with many community hospitals and clinics throughout California to provide specialized medical care and education through telecommunications technology.”

Anomalies of the heart are among the most common of all congenital defects, occurring in about one percent of all infants. Each year, some 40,000 children are born with congenital heart defects in the United States; worldwide about 1.5 million children are affected. If untreated, half of these children die before the age of 15 years. Advances in research at major pediatric heart centers, including UCSF, have resulted in more precise diagnosis and treatments.

Technology now permits cardiologists and surgeons to perform intricate corrections on newborns so that these children can lead normal, energetic and productive lives.

The UCSF-UC Davis agreement, formalized by a memorandum of understanding, calls for the institutions to share a team of four pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons. They will be led by UCSF Children’s Hospital’s Tom Karl, MD, the internationally renowned surgeon who joined the UCSF faculty late last year as chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery.
Teitel, chief of pediatric cardiology at UCSF Children’s Hospital, will lead both centers’ pediatric cardiology specialists, working closely with Mark Parrish, MD, UC Davis Children’s Hospital’s chief of pediatric cardiology. The specialists offer diagnostic evaluations of congenital heart defects, including prenatal diagnoses to determine when treatment is needed immediately after birth, and therapeutic interventions, using minimally invasive, catheter-based techniques rather than surgery.

With pediatric interventional cardiac catheterization, cardiologists use catheters to repair or open holes in the heart or blood vessels. With pediatric electrophysiology, they abolish rhythm disorders using radiofrequency ablation catheters.

“This partnership holds great promise in broadening our continuing efforts to translate research discoveries into the best and most effective treatments for congenital heart disease,” Karl said. “Also, for surgical and pediatric residents at UCSF and UC Davis and for pediatricians and pediatric heart specialists in Northern California and beyond, it offers an excellent opportunity to learn all they can about these defects.”

UC Davis Children’s Hospital and UCSF Children’s Hospital offer a comprehensive range of services for children who are healthy, injured or seriously ill, with family-centered care that takes the needs of the whole child into account. Because these children’s hospitals are integrated within major academic medical centers, their young patients benefit from access to research, expertise on the latest developments in pediatric medicine and concentrated experience with rare and complex medical problems.

“UC Davis Children’s Hospital and UCSF Children’s Hospital each has a strong identity in Northern California for the top-level services we provide to children and for our range of experts in pediatric specialties,” said Anthony Philipps, MD, chair of the UC Davis Department of Pediatrics and program director of the children’s hospital. “By combining our strengths, we will be able to offer an unmatched level of specialized treatment and care for Northern California children with heart defects. We can greatly enhance the quality of their care from birth through adulthood.