Susi Hupp, MD, a Cardiac Intensivist and Critical Care Medicine Physician at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center discusses below what it’s like to work at the hospital. Dr. Hupp splits her clinical time between the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and is the physician lead for the Cardiac Acute Care Unit Simulation Team.
What kind of patients do you typically see at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center?
We see a variety of patients, all of whom have some sort of heart disease that they were born with or acquired later in life. Many of our patients are infants who are born with congenital heart disease. They have been transferred to the hospital to be monitored or assessed for surgery and other types of interventions.
Where are patients admitted at the hospital?
Children can be admitted to either the acute care unit or the intensive care unit. Acute care is like a step down floor unit that takes care of patients coming out of the ICU or who have had an illness or change in status that requires them to be cared for in the hospital rather than at home.
What kinds of patients are admitted to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU)?
Children admitted to the CICU are very ill because of their heart disease or history of heart disease. Most patients in CICU are preparing to have surgery or recovering from surgery.
What are the different roles that pediatric cardiologists fulfill in the hospital setting?
Some of our cardiologists are in the role of providing care for the patient in the CICU or the acute care unit. They see their patients daily and make plans for their care while they are in the hospital. Interventional cardiologists take care of patients in the cath lab and perform procedures there. Electrophysiology cardiologists see patients who exhibit abnormal heartbeats or heart rhythms. Imaging cardiologists interpret patient scans of the heart, and other cardiologists act as cardiac consultants for the rest of the hospital. We also have cardiologists who specialize in caring for patients with heart failure. Finally, we have cardiothoracic surgeons who are performing surgeries on patients and caring for them throughout their stay in the hospital in conjunction with the other cardiologists.
How does a child get admitted to the hospital?
Some children are admitted to the hospital through the emergency department. Sometimes parents have noticed a problem and bring the child to the emergency department. When there is a cardiac condition present, the emergency department doctors will discuss the case with a cardiologist and decide whether to admit the patient to the hospital. Sometimes the patient might be able to be treated and sent home and other times they are admitted to the hospital.
Another way a child gets admitted to the hospital is from clinic. A cardiologist may admit a child to the hospital after a clinic appointment that has uncovered a concern. Babies born with a congenital heart defect are also admitted to the hospital to be monitored after birth. These babies are usually transferred from the birth hospital directly to the intensive care unit.
Lastly, many of the children who are admitted to our hospital come to the hospital for surgery and are admitted after surgery until they are ready to go home.
What kind of healthcare providers would a family expect to see when their child is in the hospital?
In addition to pediatric cardiologists, the team at the Heart Center includes nurses specially trained in cardiac care, respiratory therapists, advanced practice providers such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants and teaching hospital trainees including pediatric cardiology residents and fellows. If the child has a problem with another part of their body other than the heart, another physician may be consulted for help with their care. In the hospital, we want to take care of all parts of a child’s health, so a child may also see physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, speech therapists and other allied health professionals.
For more information about Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Cardiology and our pediatric cardiology specialists, click here.