The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU), part of Norton Children’s Heart Institute, was dedicated today at Norton Children’s Hospital. More than 125 donors, physicians, staff members, former patients and family members gathered to help celebrate the occasion.
The CICU is a specialized unit for pediatric heart patients. With 17 private rooms, including three specifically for newborns, these young heart patients will receive care from a team that is dedicated to pediatric heart care.
Children and teenagers recovering from heart procedures, including open heart surgery and heart transplant, or who have heart failure and other conditions requiring intensive heart care, will stay in the unit. The CICU will be staffed by physicians, nurses and other providers with specialized pediatric cardiac critical care training and experience who are focused solely on heart care.
Pediatric heart patients are currently cared for in the hospital’s “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center. However, research has shown that a dedicated CICU can further improve a child’s recovery. Patients will begin moving into the CICU in early 2020.
The unit was made possible through a $2 million gift from Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence, along with a challenge to the community to support the initiative. Brave Hearts, a support group of families united by their children’s fight to overcome complex congenital heart defects, is one group that participated in fundraising for the CICU. This challenge resulted in more than $4 million raised through the Children’s Hospital Foundation to support the project.
“The lifesaving work that happens here every day astounds me,” Lawrence said. “I am so grateful for the doctors that dedicate their lives to saving others. Thank you for your hard work and sacrifice.
“This unit was developed for the patients and families to help in their fight against heart issues, along with the world-class specialists who care for them.”
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“The lifesaving work that happens here every day astounds me.”
“We are so grateful to Jennifer and so many more who have helped support this project,” said Lynnie Meyer, Ed.D., R.N., CFRE, senior vice president and chief development officer, Norton Healthcare. “Having a child in the heart failure program or on the heart transplant list takes a toll on families. Through the generosity of our donors, we can support these families, while keeping them here at Norton Children’s — close to their support system of friends and family.”
The new unit is part of Norton Healthcare’s $78.3 million investment to renovate several areas of Norton Children’s Hospital. The Children’s Hospital Foundation has committed to raising $20 million, with more than $15 million funded to date. With the Jennifer Lawrence CICU complete, work will begin on renovations to the “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center and two neonatal intensive care units. The entire project will be completed in 2022.
More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, for specialized heart care. The center performs more than 17,500 procedures annually, including open heart surgeries, catheterizations, electrophysiology and noninvasive tests, such as echocardiograms.
“As more advanced treatments and procedures become available, we are able to provide a greater number of children with specialized heart care,” said Bahaaldin Alsoufi, M.D., director of pediatric cardiac surgery, Norton Children’s Heart Institute, and chief, division of pediatric cardiac surgery, University of Louisville School of Medicine. “This state-of-the-art facility and our dedicated team will help us further improve the care we provide to children.”
Norton Children’s Hospital has a long history of providing specialized care for children since its predecessor hospital, Children’s Free Hospital, was constructed in 1892. The hospital performed Kentucky’s first pediatric open heart surgery as well as the second successful infant heart transplant in the country in 1986.
The hospital offers a full range of services for congenital heart defects and acquired heart disease. The hospital recently added providers to our advanced heart failure program that includes mechanical heart pumps (ventricular assist devices) and the adult congenital heart disease program. The construction of the new CICU continues the history of pediatric heart care in Louisville, the growth of the adult congenital heart program and complements the recent expansion of services available from specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute.
Norton Children’s Heart Institute is home to the only full-service pediatric heart failure and transplant program serving Kentucky and Southern Indiana. The program is made up of a specialized team that includes a heart failure cardiologist, electrophysiologist, interventional cardiologist, cardiovascular surgeon, transplant surgeon, cardiovascular anesthesiologist, intensive care physicians, a specially trained pharmacist, social worker, child life specialist, specially trained nurses, a family support team and a rehabilitation specialist.