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The Washington Adult Congenital Heart Program earns accreditation from the Adult Congenital Heart Association

The Washington Adult Congenital Heart Program, part of Children’s National, is one of the first in the United States to earn ACHA Adult Congenital Heart Disease Accreditation July 26, 2018
WACH photo

WASHINGTON –  In recognition of its expertise in serving adults with congenital heart disease (CHD), structural heart conditions present at birth, the Washington Adult Congenital Heart (WACH) program receives accreditation from the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA), a nationwide organization focused on connecting patients, family members and health care providers to form a community of support and a network of experts with knowledge of CHD.    

Individuals with CHD, the most common birth defect diagnosed in one in 100 births, are living longer. There are 1.4 million adults in the U.S. living with one of many different types of congenital heart defects, ranging among simple, moderate and complex.

“This accreditation lets patients and other specialists know what to expect if they visit our center,” says Anitha John, M.D., Ph.D., a congenital heart disease specialist and the director of WACH. “While the field of congenital heart disease is small enough to personalize, it’s large enough to standardize.”  

WACH received accreditation by meeting ACHA’s criteria, which includes medical services and personnel requirements, and going through a rigorous accreditation process, both of which were developed over a number of years through a collaboration with doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses and ACHD patients.

“There are now more adults than children in the U.S. with CHD,” said Mark Roeder, the president and CEO of ACHA.  “Accreditation will elevate the standard of care and have a positive impact on the futures of those living with this disease. Coordination of care is key and this accreditation program will make care more streamlined for ACHD patients, improving their quality of life.”

“Data drives decisions,” notes Dr. John. “We’re happy to work with the nation’s largest patient advocacy organization to model standards patients and providers will learn to identify and recognize.” 

The ACHA ACHD Accredited Comprehensive Care Center designation now applies to 19 ACHD programs in the U.S. 

A study published in Circulation examined mortality rates among 70,000 patients living with CHD over a 15-year period, from 1990 to 2005, and saw mortality rates fall with referrals to specialized ACHD care centers.

One of the unique features Dr. John and the WACH team provide to patients is the ability to personalize treatment, understand the science and new types of surgery and take part in continuing medical education forums. 

“We’re empowering patients to become an active participant and an engaged member of their medical care team,” adds Dr. John.

The Washington Adult Congenital Heart (WACH) program was established in 2001 and is part of Children’s National Health System, providing continuity of care for adults with congenital heart disease. The program is led by Anitha John, M.D., Ph.D., a CHD specialist, and provides treatment for both survivors of early surgery and for newly diagnosed adults. For more information about WACH, contact202-821-6289 or visit www.ChildrensNational.org/WACH.   

The Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life and extending the lives of adults with CHD. ACHA serves and supports the more than one million adults with CHD, their families and the medical community—working with them to address the unmet needs of the long-term survivors of congenital heart defects through education, outreach, advocacy and promotion of ACHD research. For more information about ACHA, contact 888-921-ACHA or visit www.ACHAHeart.org.  

Media Contact: Jessica Frost | 301-244-6721 | 202-476-4500



About Children's National Health System

Children’s National Health System, based in Washington, D.C., has served the nation’s children since 1870. Children’s National is one of the nation’s Top 5 pediatric hospitals and, for a second straight year, is ranked No. 1 in newborn care, as well as ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. It has been designated two times as a Magnet® hospital, a designation given to hospitals that demonstrate the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery. This pediatric academic health system offers expert care through a convenient, community-based primary care network and specialty outpatient centers in the D.C. Metropolitan area, including the Maryland suburbs and Northern Virginia. Home to the Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National is the seventh-highest NIH-funded pediatric institution in the nation. Children’s National is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, regional and national levels. 

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