If your child has a serious heart condition that requires intensive care, we understand how stressful it can be for your family. At the St. Louis Children’s and Washington University Heart Center, we offer the highest level of heart care for children in the region.

We adapt our care to each patient’s individual needs, from intensive care for critical patients to transitional care to prepare them to go home. In “the heart” of the Inpatient Heart Center, our team is dedicated to your child’s recovery.

Intensive Cardiac Care for Children: Why Choose St. Louis Children’s Hospital?

Take a virtual tour of the ICU

When your child needs treatment for a critical heart condition, you can count on our renowned team for expert, compassionate care. The intensive care unit (ICU) in our Inpatient Heart Center provides:

  • Dedicated pediatric cardiac ICU, separate from the general ICU
  • Dedicated intensivists (critical care doctors) with advanced specialized training in pediatric and cardiac critical care
  • Some of the highest success rates and lowest complication rates following heart surgery
  • A private or semi-private room for each child, comfortably equipped for parents to stay overnight, that provides a soothing atmosphere for healing
  • The most experienced care from decades of caring for high-risk patients
  • Family-centered care, involving you in decisions about your child’s care and encouraging you to stay with your loved one
  • Access to the newest advancements in treatment, through our participation in national clinical trials

Our Heart Care for Children in the Inpatient Heart Center

At the Maxine Clark and Bob Fox Intensive Care Unit (ICU), our team is a nationally recognized leader in critical care for newborns, infants and children with serious heart or lung conditions. We are developing new, lifesaving advances in diagnosis and treatment to give children even stronger outcomes.

Our critical care team has pioneered family-centered care since our inception in 2007. We structure care around your child’s needs, encouraging you to be with your child as much as 24 hours a day.

We are committed to providing continuity of care, where you can build trust and confidence with each member of our coordinated team. To meet these goals, we have:

  • Remodeled all of our inpatient rooms to become ICU capable
  • Developed a strong nursing and nurse practitioner infrastructure with the right experience, knowledge and skills
  • Developed, built and grown our team expertise by recruiting additional faculty

Creating a flexible model of care has improved our patients’ satisfaction. It has also given us the capacity to provide the right level of care for each child based on changing needs throughout the hospital stay. This adaptive approach has also allowed us to care for more children with more critical and complex cases.

We focus on having the right team available to care for your child right in our unit, to minimize having to move your child. Our approach incorporates the latest technology with compassionate care to form a major cornerstone of the ICU experience.

Features of the Inpatient Heart Center

We invite you to take a virtual tour or visit us in person to meet with our specialists. The Inpatient Heart Center provides:

  • Fully equipped operating suites designed especially for children (in the surgical unit)
  • Cardiac critical care doctors on-site 24/7
  • 12 private and 14 semi-private recovery rooms equipped for ICU-level care, including emergency or postoperative surgery
  • Advanced monitoring for critically ill children using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), pulse index continuous cardiac output (PiCCO) and indirect calorimetry to ensure adequate blood flow for better healing (only ICU in the region)
  • Latest technology for patient monitoring using a high-resolution data acquisition system (T3), which helps the team better visualize your child’s progress to fine-tune treatment (only center in the region)
  • Comprehensive anticoagulation (blood thinner) medication management using advanced testing to monitor blood clotting ability (only unit in the region, with our team’s development of nationally adopted protocols for patients with heart devices)
  • Full-service ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) to support heart and lung function as your child rests and recovers, as part of our cardiac support services
  • Participation in the Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium (PC4), an international effort to improve care of critically ill patients with pediatric and congenital heart disease

Exceptional Follow-Up Care

We offer personalized attention and follow-up care for all the children we treat. Children who come through the Inpatient Heart Center with extra complex conditions, however, benefit from an additional level of follow-up care.

The cardiac intensivist who cared for your child in the ICU will support your family throughout your hospital stay. Your intensivist will address your concerns, assist with home care decisions and provide a familiar face during your stay.

Specialized care teams help your child prepare for the transition home and provide ongoing follow-up care. Depending on your child’s individual needs for care, you may work with our follow-up teams for:

  • High-risk infants
  • Transplant patients
  • Cardiology patients

Patient and Family Support Programs

At the Inpatient Heart Center, our care teams not only provide expert care for each child, but also support them and their families in a holistic way. Our supportive services and programs include:

  • Beads of Courage: This program helps children tell their stories using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of hope and courage along their treatment journey. Each bead represents a milestone that the child has achieved while coping with serious illness.
  • Heart-to-Heart lunches: We host lunches for our patients’ families, with healthy food choices.
  • Heart Strings: We provide bereavement and grief resources for families who lose a child, including memory-making folders and a remembrance celebration.
  • Winter and summer family dinners: We host annual winter and summer dinners to celebrate the holidays of those seasons with our patients and their families, during their hospital stay.

Meet the Experts

The Inpatient Heart Center team is one of the most comprehensive and expert teams in the country. We have the:

  • Largest diversity of specialists in The Heart Center
  • Only ICU in the region with doctors specifically trained in cardiology and critical care
  • Only nephrologist (kidney specialist) in the region who is also trained in cardiac care to treat children with both heart and kidney conditions

As part of our comprehensive care, our intensivists collaborate closely with our surgeons, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, your child’s bedside nurse and other care providers in daily rounds (bedside visits). The team seamlessly coordinates your child’s care during this critical time. Meet the team.

Why Choose Us?

St. Louis Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked among the nation’s best pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, the most comprehensive source of quality-related information on U.S. pediatric hospitals. We follow one simple mission – to do what’s right for kids. That mission comes to life through medical discovery, innovative therapies and compassionate care.

Best Children's Hospitals