New children’s heart facility at Schneider

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"With this new center, we can treat a full spectrum of medical disorders with the latest technology and some of the best surgeons in the country," said Dr. Philip Lanzkowsky, chief of staff and executive director of Schneider. "For the first time the facility is matching the ability of physicians and surgeons. It's really got everything that's available today."

A highlight of the 8,000-square-foot-center is the KinetDx system, which allows other hospitals to digitally send patient's echocardiograms so the ultrasounds can be reviewed and interpreted by specialists at Schneider. The equipment will not only benefit the 17 hospitals within the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, of which Schneider is a part, but also other facilities in the United States and abroad. Schneider already has an agreement to help a hospital in Budapest, Hungary, Lanzkowsky said, and its looking into a similar arrangement with one in Beijing, China.

The KinetDx at Schneider is currently undergoing testing and will not be online for several weeks. But when available, it will help the hospital stay on the technological vanguard.

"We have a system that not many hospitals in the world have," said Dr. Yehuda Shapir, a pediatric cardiologist at Schneider.

"This system is going to save lives," added Dr. Frederick Bierman, director of cardiology at the hospital. The equipment, as well as the new premises, were made possible by contributions from private donors and foundations. "The resources are a challenge, but the technology is unlimited," Bierman said.

The updated center will allow the 40-member staff to work together in one area for the first time and help the hospital continue to attract top doctors and work toward medical breakthroughs in pediatric cardiology.

"There have been major advances and this department has been in the forefront of some of these advances," Lanzkowsky said. Along with The Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian in Manhattan, Schneider is one of two medical facilities in the city to provide Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation treatment, or ECMO. By using a heart and lung machine, ECMO gives those organs on young patients a chance to rest and heal after surgeries. If there is even a chance that a patient at another hospital in Queens or Long Island might need ECMO, they are sent over to Schneider, with the treatment saving numerous lives.

"If she was somewhere else, I don't think she would have survived," said Rosa Capone of Howard Beach, who came to the unveiling ceremony with her 3-year-old daughter Maria. As an infant, Maria was brought in for open-heart surgery to fix transposed veins and then spent six weeks recovering with the help of ECMO.

Calling her a medical miracle, Dr. Shapir said Maria was "practically almost dead, as black as a squid," when she came in. He credited the ECMO treatment with saving her.

But on a day largely focused on technology, other patients' parents also testified about the personal care that Schneider staff offer.

"They never forgot her," Sabita Cardino said about her 3-year-old daughter Amber, brought in for a narrowing of the aorta and four holes in her heart. "They know exactly what's wrong with her, so I don't have to explain, 'This is Amber, this is what she's here for.'"

Lanzkowsky said the new center supplemented such care. To make room for the facility, previously located on the hospital's fourth floor, a psychiatric center on the first floor was moved to an off-site location and the premises was gutted and renovated. Though plans are underway to double the size of Schneider in the next couple of years, Lanzkowsky said the Cardiology Department needed to upgrade sooner.

"The children cannot wait 2 1/2 years for optimal care," he said. "We have to keep on moving forward."

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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