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Hopkins Children’s Center Named ECMO Center of Excellence

Hopkins Children’s Center Named ECMO Center of Excellence

Pediatric ECMO patient transport is among the services of The ECMO Center of Excellence at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Johns Hopkins Children’s Center’s Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program has received the Award for Excellence in Life Support from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO). The recognition designates Hopkins Children’s Center as a National ECMO Center of Excellence.

ECMO provides critical support for infants and children with life-threatening illness or injury. A heart and lung bypass system that takes over the functions of these organs, ECMO affords physicians time to diagnose and treat critically ill or injured children, perform organ transplants or provide patients time for injured organs to heal.

An international consortium of health care professionals and scientists dedicated to the development and evaluation of novel therapies to support failing organ systems, ELSO cites Johns Hopkins’ ECMO program for excellence in patient care and training, education, collaboration and communication. The organization awards Johns Hopkins special recognition for its leadership in the field of simulation education, “which Hopkins incorporates into team education, and ongoing development of scenarios that use simulation,” it says.

Johns Hopkins’ ECMO program is a leader in the field of simulation education. Members train in The Johns Hopkins Medicine Simulation Center, a state-of-the-art medical training and research facility, where health care professionals can hone and develop skills and refine advanced techniques. Learn more

The Center of Excellence designation, says ELSO, signifies “a commitment to exceptional patient care,” and to the health care community “an assurance of high quality standards, specialized equipment and supplies, defined patient protocols and advanced education of all staff members.”

ELSO, which notified Johns Hopkins of the award earlier this month, officially recognizes its honorees at the organization’s annual meeting in Seattle this September.

At Hopkins Children’s Center, ECMO is a program of the Division of Pediatric Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. ECMO’s multi-disciplinary team, coordinated by respiratory therapist Gary Oldenburg, RRT-NPS, consists of highly trained pediatric respiratory therapists, who work closely with other multidisciplinary team members in the care of these critically ill patients. ECMO patients are cared for in the hospital's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

“This is a great honor for Johns Hopkins, the PICU and the ECMO team,” says Oldenburg, “and a tremendous service to our community. The designation helps distinguish us as a comprehensive center of excellence for children who are in greatest need of such life-preserving services.”

Hopkins Children’s Center was the first hospital in Maryland to treat children with ECMO, beginning its program in 1988. By 2009, it had developed an extension to this life preserving service. Because patients typically cannot remain on ECMO for more than a few weeks, due to bleeding and infection risks, Hopkins Children’s Center developed a ventricular assist device (VAD) program to afford children awaiting heart transplants more time. A more stable bridge to transplant, VAD follows ECMO, and takes over the pumping function of the heart.

To help children with heart failure nearing the end of their time on ECMO in regional hospitals, the Hopkins Children’s Center team devised a highly-specialized transport service to bring these patients to Hopkins Children’s, the only VAD and pediatric organ transplant provider in the area. Today, the Pediatric ECMO Transport service, which employs a specially equipped ambulance, transports ECMO patients to Hopkins Children’s Center. ECMO air transport is in development.

Hopkins Children’s Center is Maryland's largest children’s hospital and the only state-designated Trauma Service and Burn Unit for pediatric patients. It has recognized Centers of Excellence in dozens of pediatric subspecialties, including allergy, cardiology, cystic fibrosis, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, pulmonary, transplant and, now, ECMO.

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