Families of children with heart conditions get help and guidance finding their way through a new world

If your child has been diagnosed with a heart condition, this is no time to be on your own learning about the condition, worrying about the finances of treatment, coordinating appointments with specialists — the list goes on.

Patients and their families at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, are assigned a nurse navigator who works to make sure they get what they need to ease a stressful time and connect to the best care available.

Nurse navigators are like a health care concierge. Their job is to make sure the child’s care is convenient, accessible, friendly and as easy as possible.

A unique service to help families

Norton Healthcare and Norton Children’s have been offering nurse navigators for many types of diagnoses for years. Norton Children’s Heart Institute is new in offering this service to children with heart conditions.

Stacie Hartlage, R.N., is the Norton Children’s Heart Institute nurse navigator.

“I am an advocate for these families,” Stacie said. “I want to make the process as stress-free as possible.”

Families have a direct line to Stacie through her office and cellphone and there is an after-hour access line because there are times when the need for help goes beyond the work day.

Nurse navigator is especially helpful to families away from home

“All patients who need to be seen for any cardiac care can benefit from this service,” Stacie said.

The nurse navigator also helps families transferred to Norton Children’s from any of 16 outreach centers or 28 tele-echocardiogram sites.

“These are families basically out of their local area and may not have the resources once they come to Louisville. We want to make sure they are taken care of, comfortable, and educated about the care they are receiving,” Stacie said.

Norton Children’s Heart Institute

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Stacie worked for almost 20 years as a critical care nurse in the “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center at Norton Children’s Hospital before joining Norton Children’s Heart Institute as a nurse navigator.

As an intensive care unit nurse, Stacie witnessed families’ stresses and anxieties caring for a child with a complicated heart condition.

“A lot of these parents spend hours sitting at the bedside, watching the monitors. It’s very hard for them to go through,” Stacie said. “For most parents, this is something they have never been through before.”

As nurse navigator, she is able to help families understand the process and ease some of the anxiety.

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Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s care includes diagnosing fetal heart conditions so the team is ready to take action when the baby is born. Our board-certified specialists are experienced in caring for newborns and older children with congenital or acquired heart conditions.

Because more and more children born with heart conditions are growing into adulthood, we’ve added specialists to provide specialized adult congenital heart care.


Norton Children's Hospital

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