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Making a Mark
Making a Mark is published bi-annually by the CHOC Foundation. It features CHOC and children?s healthcare news, patient highlights, hospital updates, board member spotlights, and community involvement stories and is mailed to donors who support CHOC with a gift of $250 and more.

Creating a World-Class Heart Institute at CHOC

The Orange County community may already know about the excellence in cardiac care delivered at CHOC?the only facility in the region specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cardiac patients. But now, Anthony C. Chang, M.D., MBA, medical director of the CHOC Heart Institute, wants the world to know. His goal is to propel CHOC?s already outstanding Heart Institute into the ranks of the nation?s premier cardiac care facilities. To achieve this vision, Dr. Chang will build on the reputation and expertise of CHOC?s team of cardiac specialists and leverage CHOC?s strength in teamwork, innovation and education.


CHOC?s cardiac staff is comprised of knowledgeable, dedicated clinicians who work amid an atmosphere of cooperation and function effectively as a team. ?Our doctors and nurses comprise three distinct specialties? neonatal intensive care, pediatric intensive care, and cardiac?and all three work together very well,? says Dr. Chang. ?This is critical to our success, as it leverages the strength of our multidisciplinary team.?

Doctors from all three specialties also perform patient rounds together. ?This is very unusual for rounds; typically, physicians conduct them on their own. By doing them together, our doctors? shared expertise creates a synergy that greatly benefits the care of our patients,? Dr. Chang continues.

Indeed, because of the cardiac team?s reputation for its inter-specialty cooperation, CHOC?s Heart Institute was featured in the May 2006 issue of Neonatology Today. The article discussed the benefits of collaboration among neonatology, cardiology and nursing teams in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and was authored by Dr. Chang; CHOC doctors John Cleary, M.D., and Vijay Dhar, M.D.; and Dana Bledsoe, CHOC vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer.


The CHOC Heart Institute is located in a designated area within the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). It is the only regional facility to perform neonatal and pediatric open heart surgery. It continues to be the only cardiac care center in Orange County with a dedicated team of pediatric cardiologists with expertise in fetal diagnostic, interventional and therapeutic catheterization; pediatrics trained cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologists, and radiologists.

?At the Heart Institute, we are very willing to adopt new innovations and build relationships with industry leaders to develop new technologies, such as the handheld ultra sound device we use to look at a patient?s heart?basically an ?ultra-stethoscope?,?explains Dr. Chang. In addition, the team works with companies at the Research and Development (R&D) level to help create new, innovative therapies.

The Heart Institute also uses robots to provide remote consultation to other hospitals. The machines venture into the ICU and ER and transmit live, exceptionally high-quality pictures back to the heart team at CHOC. The robots can even use stethoscopes to listen to patients? hearts, allowing CHOC physicians to listen as well. The robots allow the doctors to see X-rays, monitors, and other equipment in a virtual environment, enabling them to diagnose patients with the highest precision.

According to Dr. Chang, one of his goals for the CHOC Heart Institute is ?to make everything in the cardiac unit state-of-the-art.? ?For example,? he continues, ?we are one of the few hospitals in the world to use Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) to monitor the oxygenation of tissue after surgery. I would like to see all of our therapies be this leading-edge.?


Dr. Chang also believes that continuing education is crucial to the growth and success of CHOC?s cardiac team. As part of its commitment to education, the Heart Institute sponsors several yearly educational symposia at the international and national level.

In June, CHOC sponsored a Pediatric Cardiology Review conference that brought together expert faculty from around the world. Dr. Chang served as a program director for the event, which provided attendees with an intensive review and update on cardiology, as well as the opportunity to earn continuing medical education credits. Dr. Chang is also serving as program director for the upcoming Heart Failure in Children and Young Adults conference in Laguna Hills in November.

On a larger scale, the Heart Institute is spearheading an initiative to create a regional heart program with other cardiac centers at hospitals such as UCLA, Children?s Hospital Los Angeles, Children?s Hospital San Diego, Loma Linda University Children?s Hospital, and Miller Children?s Hospital. The focus will be on collaborating and formulating strategies together to achieve greater cardiac excellence across Southern California.

I have worked at several world-renown hospitals in my career, and the chemistry here is absolutely the best I?ve ever seen. Even visitors comment that there?s something very special about the collaboration, experience, and willingness to share among our staff.

Dr. Anthony C. Chang Medical Director, CHOC Heart Institute


The Heart Institute enjoys support from the community as well as CHOC?s volunteers. The CHOC Padrinos have pledged $1 million to the Heart Institute over the next two years. The volunteer-based group has already donated approximately $500,000 and plans to complete their pledge next year. According to Padrinos Chairman Mike Rosenthal, ?we want to help put the CHOC Heart Institute on the map. The Padrinos support CHOC?s vision of creating a world-class cardiac care center, that?s why we chose the Heart Institute as the prime recipient of our fundraising efforts.?

The Newman?s Own Foundation, which donates all profits received from the sale of Newman?s Own products to charities, also recently donated $25,000 to the CHOC Heart Institute for educational support.

Cardiac Fast Facts

  • At least 9 of every 1,000 infants born in the U.S. each year suffer from a heart defect.*
  • Nearly 400 children are born each year in Orange County with some type of heart defect.*
  • Last year, 194 major heart surgeries were performed at CHOC, an increase of 15% from the previous year.
  • CHOC?s PICU serves over 1,200 children each year

*Sources: The American Heart Association, County of Orange Health Care Agency

Heart Institute Facts

  • First and only Orange County hospital to perform pediatric open heart surgery.
  • Specialized expertise in surgical repair of congenital heart defects and complex heart problems.
  • Dedicated Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU).
  • Expertise in echocardiography and diagnostic or interventional catheterization for non-invasive cardiac evaluation, detection and repair.


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chocChildren's Hospital of Orange County | UCI University of California, Irvine

Children's Hospital of Orange County is affiliated with UC Irvine Healthcare and UC Irvine School of Medicine

CHOC Children's - 1201 W La Veta Ave, Orange, CA. Phone: 714-997-3000. .