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Dr. Thomas P. Graham

VCH designated as one of six premier facilities in treating congenital heart disease

BY: CAROLE BARTOO AND JESSICA PASLEY

12/19/2003 - 

Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital was one of six nationwide to be named to the Congenital Heart Disease Resource Services Network by United Resource Networks (URN). The honor serves as a designation for VCH as a center of excellence for treating congenital heart disease.

The Minneapolis-based company contracts with payors to provide a network of providers for high end medical care, primarily transplants. Vanderbilt is also a center of excellence in many of URN’s transplant networks.

“We’re quite proud of this acknowledgement of our program,” said Dr. Thomas P. Graham, Jr. Ann and Monroe Carell Family Professor of Pediatric Cardiology and director of Pediatric Cardiology.

Hospitals must be invited to apply for designation as a center of excellence by URN. Sixty-five centers were asked to consider applying for this designation for Congenital Heart Disease.

Vanderbilt Children’s went through a two-year process to apply for this designation.

Also recognized were Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Children’s Hospital of Boston, University of Michigan Hospitals in Ann Arbor, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation and The Children’s Hospital of Illinois.

Those hospitals selected “demonstrated excellence in care, outstanding surgical procedure outcomes and a history of treating large numbers of complex CHD conditions,” a notification letter to the hospital stated.

Vanderbilt Children’s doctors expect to see more congenital heart defect cases because of this designation. United Resource Networks works with patients across the country to identify qualified centers of excellence to provide their care. Graham leader of program since 1971

Since Vanderbilt first embarked on the creation of a pediatric Cardiology Department more than 30 years ago, much has changed. But one thing has stayed the same — its dedicated leadership.

Graham joined Vanderbilt in 1971. Prior to his arrival, there were less than 20 catheterization procedures and operations a year for pediatric patients. Today 13 attending physicians, seven physicians in training, five nurses and dedicated cath and echo lab staff, help treat approximately 7,000 outpatients and inpatients a year.

“There have been such incredible improvements in therapy,” said Graham, who is serving as the honorary chair of the 2004 Heart Gala. “We can treat virtually all children with congestive heart defects now, whereas before 1939 there was no effective treatment for any child.

“We have had major advancements in cardiac surgery, interventional catheterization treatment, the treatment of arrhythmias and in transplantation.”

When it comes to giving credit for the developments the pediatric Cardiology Department has made Graham doesn’t hesitate:

“It’s all about the team,” he said. “Our team not only includes our Pediatric Cardiology group but also our colleagues in Cardiac Surgery, Critical Care, Neonatology, Anesthesiology and all other pediatric specialties.”

Graham, who received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from Duke University, is the current president of the International Society of Adult Congenital Heart Disease.

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