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Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

doctor with baby and mother

Advanced Heart Care in a Family-Centered Environment

Every year, more than 600 patients have heart surgery at Children's National. Our CICU team uses the latest research and innovation to ensure that we provide the best outcomes for all of our patients.

Tour the Cardiac ICU

Children’s National Hospital is the region’s leading provider of critical care for seriously ill and injured infants and children. We offer the only pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and specialized Cardiac ICU (CICU) in the greater Washington, D.C. area.

In our state-of-the-art Cardiac ICU, our team of pediatric heart specialists is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of our most vulnerable patients.

Critical Care Medicine at Children’s National

We designed our Cardiac ICU around a dual philosophy: a high-tech environment with a family-friendly feel. We believe that both of these aspects of our Cardiac ICU are vital to our patients’ well-being and long-term health.

Features of our critical care program include:

  • Round-the-clock physician coverage: We guarantee 24/7 in-house coverage from board-certified physicians every day of the year, with at least two physicians in our building at night. We do not use trainees for critical care coverage.
  • Latest life-support technology: Our physicians are experts in the most advanced technologies used today for respiratory, neurological and cardiac conditions. We have one of the country’s busiest programs for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), including advanced training with rapid deployment ECMO.
  • Award-winning care: Both our PICU and Cardiac ICU have received honors for upholding the highest standards in care with the prestigious Beacon Award from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). We are the first hospital in the country to have two pediatric units receive the award simultaneously.
  • Advanced monitoring system. Each of our 26 cardiac care rooms has advanced monitoring technology. Near each patient’s bed is a screen displaying the child’s vital signs as well as the trends for the past 24 hours. Data collection and analysis is crucial to effective heart care.
  • Mobile technology. We designed our Cardiac ICU with mobile technology to adapt to our patient’s needs. If we need to set up a heart-lung machine or prepare for a surgery, we can reconfigure the room easily, without needing to move your child.  
  • Promoting healthy neurodevelopment. The heart and brain are intricately connected. Our cardiac and neurology departments work closely together to protect your child’s brain function during a heart procedure. Using technology such as near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), we can ensure that we are doing the best for your child’s heart and brain.
  • Transport team. Sometimes, infants and children at other hospitals may require our expert, specialized care. Our experienced Transport Team helps move children from other hospitals to Children’s National.
  • Innovative triage system for babies. If we diagnose your unborn child with a heart condition, we assign a category depending on severity. Depending on the category, we will develop a personalized delivery plan with you. You may need to deliver at Children’s National, or you may be able to deliver at your local hospital and come to us after the birth.
  • Culture of safety. Our clinical outcomes and safety measures are among the best in the country. Our team has a weekly review of our processes to identify areas for improvement. A commitment to quality is a hallmark of our program.
  • Telehealth command center. The telehealth command center in our CICU uses cutting-edge technology to keep continuous watch over the most fragile patients with critical heart disease. It offers collaborative communication to help predict and prevent major events, like cardiac arrest. Watch the video to learn more about it.

    Family-Centered ICU at Children’s National

    We understand how difficult it can be for families when a child requires care in one of our intensive care units. That’s why we emphasize compassion and comfort during this stressful time – in our facility and our approach to care. We offer:

    • Family-centered rounds. We include families during bedside rounds, when our team moves from patient to patient to discuss each case. We encourage you to participate and ask questions about your child’s care. We include all of the specialists working with your child – from physicians and nurses to any therapists, nutritionist, case manager or social worker involved in your child’s care.
    • Family access.  We are one of the few institutions that allows families to stay at all times – including during any procedures that do not require a sterile environment. In all other cases, family is welcome to stay at the bedside of a critically ill child.

    Critical Care: Meet Our Team

    Our in-house critical care team is a group of dedicated and specially trained experts in all areas of intensive care. We believe in high-quality and compassionate care for our patients and their families. Our team includes:

    • Cardiac intensivists, specialists in caring for children with critical cardiac disease
    • Pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists, available 24/7 to care for all of your child’s anesthesia needs
    • Pediatric critical care nurses
    • Dedicated pharmacist
    • Respiratory therapist
    • Nutritionist
    • Physical therapist
    • Social worker who follows each patient across the spectrum of care. Our social workers help patients and families navigate the healthcare experience and provide social and emotional support.

    We also work closely with all specialists and surgeons throughout the hospital involved in your child’s treatment plan. We invite them to participate in our daily bedside rounds.

    Learn more about critical care at Children’s National:

    Ryan W.'s Story

    Heart

    Ryan

    When Ryan turned 2 months old, his parents noticed a change in his behavior. Their son – who once loved to eat – suddenly stopped nursing, began sleeping more than usual, gradually became fussy and struggled to breathe when he laid down.

    Ryan W.'s Story

    Cardiac ICU Team

    • Ricardo Muñoz

      Ricardo Munoz
      Division Chief, Cardiac Critical Care Medicine
      Executive Director, Telemedicine
      Co-Director, Children's National Heart Institute

    • John Berger

      John Berger III
      Director, Pulmonary Hypertension Program
      Director, Cardiac ECMO

    • Alejandro Lopez_Magallon

      Alejandro Lopez-Magallon
      Medical Director, Telemedicine
      Cardiac Critical Care Specialist

    • Children's National Hospital

      Hannah Canty
      Cardiac Critical Care Specialist

    • Dr. John Diddle

      John Diddle
      Director, Quality Outcomes in Cardiac Critical Care
      Cardiac Critical Care Specialist

    • Children's National Hospital

      Yuliya Domnina
      Medical Director, Quality and Safety for the ICUs
      Medical Director, CICU
      Cardiac Critical Care Specialist

    • Craig Futterman

      Craig Futterman
      Cardiac Critical Care Specialist

    • Bao Puente

      Bao Puente
      Fellowship Program Director, Cardiac Critical Care Medicine
      Cardiac Critical Care Specialist

    • Gil Wernovsky

      Gil Wernovsky
      Cardiac Critical Care Specialist

    • Gregory Yurasek

      Gregory Yurasek
      Cardiac Critical Care Specialist

    • Charles Fleming

      Charles Fleming
      Nurse Navigator, Children's National Heart Institute

    • Children's National Hospital

      Lauren Daniel
      Nurse Practitioner

    • Melissa Jones

      Melissa Jones
      Director, Neurocardiac Critical Care

    • Riley C

      Christine Riley
      Advance Practice Provider Team Lead
      Nurse Practitioner, Critical Care

    • Children's National Hospital

      Jennifer Rowe
      Nurse Practitioner

    • Children's National Hospital

      Sarah Wilson
      Nurse Practitioner

    • Lucy Burrell

      Lucy Burrell
      Nurse Manager, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

    • Children's National Hospital

      Justine Fortkiewicz
      Professional Practice Specialist, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

    • Children's National Hospital

      Martha Goldberg
      Clinical Instructor, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

    • Children's National Hospital

      Cara Pleau
      Clinical Instructor, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

    • Children's National Hospital

      Monique Powell
      Nurse Manager, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit