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New Cardiac ICU Opens At Cook Children's Hospital

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - It's the kind of place, no one really wants to experience, but the place where countless lives are saved over the years.

Seven children and their parents moved Monday from the old cardiac ICU center to the new Heart Center at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth.

Ashley and Tim Miller's son was among them.

"He has coarctation of the aortic valve," Ashley Miller said. "He has also VSD and ASD, and his VSD was five millimeters."

Those terms are pretty unfamiliar to most outside of medicine and those who have felt both the physical and emotional pain associated with pediatric heart disease.

"He has two holes in his heart," Ashley Miller said in simple language. "One is very large, and then where the aorta is. It's a large valve that kinda 'candy-canes' around, it's pitched. Kinked like a water hose. Nothing's going to be able to come through there."

The Millers say their son underwent surgery at the hospital last Friday. Three days later, a team of doctors, nurses and other staff members surrounded their child and gently moved him to the newly constructed South Tower on the hospital's campus.

The tiny heart patients arrived with ventilators, monitors and IV's. The hospital staff practiced the transfers. They "test moved" imaginary patients and timed each trip in preparation for the move into the South Tower, where the hospital's new Heart Center is now housed.

All cardiology services, from operating rooms to a newer, larger cardiac intensive care unit, will now be located on the same floor inside the South Tower.
"(Previously) what we (had) to do is overflow our patients into the pediatric intensive care unit when we had more than ten patients," Laura Meister said. Meister is the director of the Heart Center.

The new center also boasts a larger waiting area for families like the Millers.

"It's very stressful when you're waiting for your child to get out of the operating room," Meister said.

The added space, which includes a roof-top playground, is designed to offer a bit more privacy.

Tim Miller agrees, though this is not his first experience with the cardiology department at Cook Children's.

"I actually had the same, nearly the same surgery when I was 17 here at the same hospital," Tim Miller said, referring to his son's procedure. "Dr. Tam did mine, and Dr. Tam did my kids. It's been very surreal to come back here and go through this from a parent's side."

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